I had the honor of sitting down with Sgt John Garcia to talk about drugs in Longmont, CO. Sgt Garcia is currently part of the Longmont Police Department and works in the Special Operations Division, SWAT and is the head of the SRO (School Resource Officer) Program for Longmont Schools within Saint Vrain Valley School District.
Q- What are the most common drugs found in Longmont?
A- In general; marijuana, meth, prescription drugs, fentanyl and heroin are commonly found in Longmont. However; when we are talking about minors, we tend to see some acid, marijuana, prescription drugs, and codeine drinks.
Q- What signs/red flags should a parent look for if they suspect that their child is involved with drugs?
A- Parents should pay attention to who their children are hanging out with. Look for changes in their behavior and moods; which can include them being overactive or underactive. Pay attention to if they are hiding things from you or being sneaky. If you notice they have new clothes, electronics or other new items that you did not purchase for them and they have no job; ask where they got things from.
Q- At what average age do you see children start using drugs?
A- I have seen children as young as Middle School using marijuana. The harder drugs tend to be found more at the High School level.
Q- What can happen if a child is caught using drugs or having drugs on them and is there added consequences if they are caught on school property?
A- Children found using drugs or caught with drugs on them can be criminally charged. Longmont Police Department tries to do interventions; when possible, over hard charges. And can help get inversion for intervention. If the child is on school property they face criminal charges, as well as, school discipline. It is also important to note that dealing drugs is a higher level crime with more severe consequences.
Q- What should a parent do and where can they turn for help if their child is using drugs?
A- If a parent finds out their child is using drugs, they can notify the school so that the school staff can help be an advocate and partner in the situation and can help by having extra eyes if needed on the child. You can also notify the school's SRO and they can help provide resources for the parent. There are lots of services available in Longmont and in Boulder County and there are even services available for parents that can help. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Parents don't have to do this alone.
Q- What is DUI?
A- DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. A DUI is driving while impaired even in the slightest degree. DUI can be caused by, including but not limited to, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs to name a few.
Q- What are the consequences for a minor and a DUI?
A- Some of the possible consequences for a minor with a DUI might include getting arrested, losing their drivers license, and having their vehicle towed which then has to be paid for to get back. There are a lot of financial consequences associated with DUIs and it could all cost around 10 Thousand dollars or more when all is said and done. Also; if you are involved in an accident involving harm to anyone, even if you didn't cause the accident you will be at fault for it because of you driving impaired. You can also be charged with Vehicular Assault if you are in an accident and cause injury to others.
Q- Is marijuana illegal for minors?
A- Yes marijuana is still illegal for minors. Parents, and children, should also be aware that marijuana and marijuana products can be laced with fentanyl without your knowledge and that can be deadly.
Q- What programs do the Longmont Police Department use to help keep children away from drugs?
A- The SROs and their respective schools work together to help educate children in classes about drugs. The Longmont Youth Center offers classes also. If your child is involved in things like sports, clubs and hobbies they are less likely to be involved with drugs as compared to if they are bored and not involved in group activities or things that they are interested in. A great deterrent for children being involved with drugs is parent involvement. When parents are involved and aware of what their children are doing then the children are less likely to be involved with drugs.
Q- Do all Police Officers carry Narcan and does it work on all drug overdoses?
A- All Longmont Police Officers carry Narcan with them while on duty. No, Narcan does not work for all drugs.
Q- What does an overdose look like and what should you do if you suspect someone has overdosed?
A- Some signs to look for of a possible overdose include, but are not limited to, change in cognition and behavior, confusion, the person not making sense, unexplained sweating, unconsciousness and seizure. Regardless of the symptoms someone will visibly appear to be having a medical concern if they are overdosing on drugs. If you suspect someone is having an overdose call 9-1-1 and stay close to the person and keep an eye on them until help arrives. Parents can get Narcan for free to have it on hand and it is not a bad idea to have access to it or to carry it with you.
Q- What are the three most important things you want parents to know about children and drug use?
- Parents need to be involved with their children. Be sure to take the time to know your child while they grow up so you are able to notice a change in them; which can be key to having an earlier chance to step in and help them when something is wrong.
- By law your children don't own anything; you own it! You have the right to search any and all of their things anytime until they are 18. You are in charge!
- See something, say something. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Help is available and our first response is not necessarily to make an arrest.