Are you concerned about what is going on in Salem with regard to drugs and violence?
Some members of Emmanuel have met twice to share concerns and determine a means of caring for the neighborhood as an outreach of Christ's love. Group members brainstormed in January and felt a need to be educated about the types of problems associated with drugs and drug usage.
In March a meeting was hosted by Emmanuel joined by members from First United Methodist Church (our neighbors from across the street). We heard a presentation from Detective John Scheets of the Salem Police Dept. who is also a member of the Columbiana County Drug Task Force. Detective Scheets outlined the complexity of the drug issue including supply, demand, risk, and reward. He also pointed out that citizens can be very helpful in determining if drug activity is going on in neighborhoods. He pointed out that something as easy as jotting down license plate numbers of vehicles at suspected drug locations can be very helpful to the task force. Any phone calls made regarding drug activity remain confidential, he emphasized. Detective Scheets also gave information about signs of drug abuse and passed around different types of drugs in sealed packages, including crack cocaine and heroin. Methamphetamine usage (meth) is also on the rise, due to the ready availability of the ingredients to make it and directions on how to do so on the internet, he said.
Our State Representative, Nick Barborak, had called Pastor Alan Smearsoll after a news article was in the local papers about the church and its efforts for the neighborhood and asked to speak at our next meeting. Rep. Barborak was at the meeting and spoke of pending legislation he authored (H.B. 251) which recently was approved unanimously by the rules and reference committee and has been referred to House Speaker William Batchhelder for a floor vote. Under current legislation from H.B. 86, sentencing for drug offenders without a prior felony conviction results in a sentence of mandatory community control only (i.e. no jail time). Rep. Barborak's bill would eliminate the no jail time provision from H.B. 86 and leave sentencing to the discretion of the judge hearing the case.
How can you help?
First, pray for God's help, protection, and guidance for those directly involved in dealing with these kinds of crises every day – local law enforcement, Columbiana County drug task force members, first responders, social workers, drug counselors, those addicted and their families, etc.
Second, be aware – this IS a problem in Salem and our communities. If you suspect drug activity in your neighborhood, call your local law enforcement agency or the Columbiana County Drug Task Force (330-424-0309). All calls are confidential and information can assist in new or ongoing investigations.
Third, contact House Speaker William Batchhelder in Columbus to request H.B 251 be brought to the floor for a vote. If this bill is not brought to the floor this year, the process must start all over again in January with the new general assembly. Letters can be sent to Speaker Batchhelder at 77 S. High St., 14th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215 or you can e-mail him. You can also phone your state representative at 1-800-282-0253 Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Fourth, continue to pray for the members of Emmanuel who have volunteered to devote time and effort to this neighborhood outreach plan. We will probably be partnering with First United Methodist Church members for some future events and activities as they too are concerned about this problem and have been working toward solutions and ministry opportunities.
To contact us:
251 S. Broadway Avenue
Salem, OH 44460