Northfield’s heroin story revisited: a newspaper, a grandfather, a minister

The Carletonian published its first issue of the year on Friday and their lead article was Northfield’s heroin story, along with an accompanying interview of a former addict. (This first issue is not yet available via their online service but these photos I took of the paper are large enough to make the text readable. Click to enlarge.)

carlonian heroin story1 carlonian heroin story2 carletonian addiction story
Left and center: Chief of Police’s heroin claims cause controversy; Right: A former Northfield High School heroin addict offers perspective.

Dale SnesrudCraig Ellinboe

Two other Northfielders have publicly weighed in on the heroin issue recently. Left: Dale Snesrud, former co-owner of the Olympus Athletic Club, wrote a letter to the Northfield News titled Holy discontent with heroin. Right: Craig Ellingboe, Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, preached a sermon title “Holy Discontent” on Aug. 26 that Dale references in his letter. Keep reading for the full text of their remarks.

IMG_4318During a recent Sunday at St. Peter’s Church, Pastor Ellingboe delivered a sermon titled “Holy Discontent.” It touched my heart so that at one point, I almost thought I had to leave. In the Aug. 22 edition of the Northfield News, there was an article about a young man from our community and from St. Peter’s Church. It alleged that he robbed a bank i n Faribault. I consider myself a friend of this family.

In the past couple of months there have been other articles in the paper about drug abuse and arguments about the extent of this problem in our community. Our police chief got ripped for possibly overstating the problem in our community. School officials were quick to defend themselves. I am sure there are a number of adults that have passed through this young man’s life that had the opportunity to help, prevent or knock some sense into his head before his life took these turns, myself included.

Our school system says it’s not that bad. Well, let me tell them that only one incident like this is not acceptable. This also is not the only incident. There have been kids that have OD’d. We have had suicides and a number of break-ins in related to this problem. I want to challenge the school district to be pro-active. Drug education is not sufficient. Real drug prevention is what is needed. Not only by the school district – but also by the parents and everyone that touches the lives of our young people. I want to challenge the Northfield Ministerial association. There should be drug awareness programs in every church where parents can comfortably contact someone at the very first sign of any drug involvement from their kids. Our community leaders and law enforcement need to truly demonstrate tough love to our kids.

Holy Discontent – Lord, I have it. This incident could be my grandkids or yours. It’s time for everyone in our community to catch “Holy Discontent.” Get involved; be concerned about our young people. There are so many blessings waiting for our young people and our community. Kids have so much to offer – all they need is to understand how important they are to their parents, to their school, to their church and to our community. Holy Discontent – become involved and make our kids become aware of how important they are and how much we all need what they have to give.

Dale Snesrud

——————————

Craig EllingboeThe other day I was at the nursing home and read this Gospel from Luke. When you need an omaha nursing home lawyers, just visit reedlawomaha.com and look for Shayla Reed. I said to the people gathered there, “It sounds to me like this woman had rheumatoid arthritis. I’m no doctor, but I’ll bet that really hurts. It says she had been ‘crippled for 18 years.’”

8 of the 12 people I was talking to had some form of arthritis. “I’ll say it hurts,” said one lady and she showed me her fingers, that were bent out of shape. Another told me of her husband who had used gold treatments for a few years before he died.

I thought of another lady named Mabel Lund, who was 85 years old, and spoke at a going –away party for me and Mary and family a number of years ago. She was a saint of the church and a former elementary teacher and one of the funniest people I’ve known in my life. She was the lady who when she stood up to speak said, “Hoover, Hoover, Hoover.”

I thought maybe, at her age, Mabel was starting to lose it. It made no sense at all.
I said, “What did you say?”
She said, “Craig, my arthritis is acting up, so I said, ‘Hoover, Hoover, Hoover.”
“Why do you say that, Mabel?”
“Because,” she said, “I’m hurting all over, and that’s the biggest dam I know!”

Today’s lesson is not so much about arthritis or healing or even dealing with unclean spirits. It is rather about the Sabbath, and doing what is important, and Holy Discontent.

Jesus is taken to task for healing on the Sabbath. Healing was considered doing work, and work was forbidden by Jewish law on the Sabbath. Let’s look for a moment at the context. The gathering storm of the walk to Jerusalem and the Cross is on the horizon. Herod, who once looked at Jesus with curiosity, will soon be looking to take His life. The crowds are getting larger and the disciples don’t understand what is to come. So, Jesus returns to the themes of suffering, sacrifice, and service with renewed intensity.

Like a scene from a movie, the scene unfolds. A woman hunched over with her illness walks through the temple. She does not ask for healing—perhaps she was merely there to worship. Can you see her, looking down at the feet that are the feet of the crowd. One pair of feet steps directly into her path. She cannot go around for the press of the crowd: A pair of hands reaches out to touch her… A voice, gentle but commanding, says, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” Immediately, she straightens up and begins to praise God. With a sound like the cracking of knuckles, she unwinds and straightens and the years of pain drop from her face. And, there are tears…not of pain, but of joy.

The leaders of the synagogue, sensing the threat of this man, accuse Jesus of violating the law. But, they speak not to Jesus, but to the crowd. “No one, No one, should work on the Sabbath!” But, Jesus denies them their demagoguery, the phony oratory, their chance to incite the crowd against him. “You, he says, take care of your animals. You lead them to water on the Sabbath. Why wouldn’t you free this daughter of Abraham?”

You and I, my friends, we all live in a world, in which nearly everybody works every day of the week, including the Sabbath. Yet, everyone I know…knows always that there are two kinds of time: At work….the hands of the clock that ticks off the seconds, the minutes, the hours, days, weeks, and years. And, the time that we shall call God’s time.

Many of you are on jobs that have been analyzed by computer programs or time engineers who determine just how effective you are at time on the job. I have a friend who gets paid according to how many cars he can fix in a day. Insurance companies determine how much it costs to take out an appendix to tonsils or to fix a heart. They look at time spent, and time spent in a hospital, recovery time, including the time spent at home. I must ask you today, “How do you spend your time?” Your clock time and God’s time?

One great teacher who helped to start the self-management movement was Stephen Covey, who lifts up the importance of beginning a task with the end in mind. He says, “How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, in keeping that picture in mind, we manage each day to be and do what really matters most.”  He suggests dividing time into four quadrants at work and in life:

Important and Urgent (crises, deadline-driven projects)
Important, Not Urgent (preparation, prevention, planning, relationships)
Urgent, Not Important (interruptions, many pressing matters)
Not Urgent, Not Important (trivia, time wasters).

He says, most people spend most of their time in the crises and urgent interruption areas, while the most important use of time should be spent in the areas of Important, but Not Urgent.

These are the areas, I think, that we might call “Holy Discontent.” (Note: Some of the following thoughts are from Bill Hybels in his book, Holy Discontent).

For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. became famous because of what he couldn’t stand. A pastor by occupation, he wound up being one of the world’s great volunteers. The racial oppression around him in the 50’s and 60’s nearly ripped him apart. He couldn’t stand the “Whites Only” signs on drinking fountains and bathrooms and doors to restaurants. He couldn’t stand the fact that blacks, by law, were pushed to the back of the bus or forced to give up seats altogether for white patrons. He couldn’t stand that his people were always at the back of the receiving lie for education, or employment, or housing.

He wanted the lynching of black people to stop. He wanted segregation to stop. He wanted Justice to flow like a river so that his kids could grow up in a world different than the one he was living in. And, in holy discontent, he had a “Popeye Moment.” He said in his soul, “God, that’s all I can stand. I can’t stand anymore.”  So, for the rest of his brief 39 years with passion for a new civilization, Martin went for nonviolence, freedom and justice. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the University of Oslo for his tireless efforts to that end. In his acceptance speech, he said these words: “I refuse to accept the idea that ‘is-ness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘ought-ness’ that forever confronts him.”

Holy Discontent is where the Oughtness takes over the IS-ness of Life. The question regarding how we use time is not: “What should I do next?” Instead, it is: “What should I do most of all?” Somebody wiser than I has said: “Where your Passion meets the World’s Need, that is your Mission.” That, my friend, is your crossroads in life. Part of the Christian faith is attending to your own truth. Florida Scott Maxwell put it in these elegant terms: “You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done…you are fierce with reality.”

My friends, it is time for us to become “Fierce with reality.”

I read with interest the headlines in a recent Northfield paper. One of our boys from St. Peter’s made the headlines. He hasn’t been active here for a long time. He broke his mother’s heart. He’s going to court to be sentenced. And, though his father is devastated by the news, the dad is being as supportive as he knows how. The young man in question is being convicted of robbing a bank. Why? Apparently, because he is supporting a drug habit. Will he pay the price? Yes, laws and court systems have a way of making that happen.

Recently, another young man, not from this parish, and I got to talking. He said, “Craig, you don’t really know me, but I know you. You’ve got a good church there on the southeast side of town, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I said.
“I hear that you’ve been talking about the drug problems in town. I hear some people have minimized it, some of the higher-ups in town.”
“I suppose it looks like that,” I said. “Though I think they care.”

“Well,” he said, “a few years ago, my brother died from an overdose. Many of his friends still use. There’s still a lot going on.”
“But you don’t?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “It scares me. I saw what it did to my brother and his friends.”

Well, friends. I suppose you thought I was going to come up with a lot of answers. I’m not. But, I am going to ask you to consider the problem. Drugs and alcohol seem to be one answer for this world with its ever-increasing Anxiety and Depression. But, there’s another answer that could come from a Church like this. If we commit our time not to things as they “Is,” But to things as they “Ought-to-Be.”

One great man once said, “Some people look at things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I should like to look at things as they could be and ask, ‘Why Not?’”

I am ready to commit this church and myself to a ministry that can answer the questions of young people who are asking for help and to their families. I want us to do more than pray about it. I am asking you to invite families and youth to work together to find the answers. Let us move forward with Holy Discontent. Amen.

Craig Ellingboe

40 thoughts on “Northfield’s heroin story revisited: a newspaper, a grandfather, a minister”

  1. My last comment got away from me somehow as I went back to read on the page. Invite families and youth to work together– that’s something to do. Is that already happening at St. Peter’s?

    I’ve been wondering which families need help. Perhaps instead of searching for the “right” family to help we might just assume that all kids and families should be included/addressed.

    I was disappointed in the NNews story about the kid who robbed a Faribault bank. Didn’t the article seem to describe the kid as bad to the bone, even when he was young? I’d like to remind us that we parents/adults have the power to influence our children and, although the actions of our kids do add up to describe the people they are becoming, no child deserves to be labeled as bad or destined for failure. Ultimately, there are many ways to write a story and this angle just furthered irresponsiblity.

    I like Dale’s idea to have the church be a resource for families who are confronting drug issues. Wonderful idea. If that support becomes a reality, I believe It would be important to get the word out that such support exists.

    BTW, St. Peter’s has a counseling center which is quite confidential and is sliding fee based– call 507-645-8262 and ask for Neale Thompson. If you are not comfortable with the church setting just tell him and I’m sure he’ll make you as comfortable as much as he can.

  2. I think this is a common problem; if people exaggerate a story to try to make it sound more important, the net result is a lot of derision for the demonstrable overclaim… Which draws the eye away from the question of whether the reality is still worth some kind of attention. Whoops!

  3. I believe that there was never any overstatement of the problem. I base this belief on my own conversations with hard-working, caring, involved police officers, and on conversations with people who experience first-hand the power of community denial that alcohol and majiuana have been problems here for a long, long time.

  4. If there is evidence to support the Chief’s claims about heroin, such evidence has not been disclosed. At a minimum, the Chief should explain how he came up with his numbers so that the community can determine if the heroin problem is a problem deserving special attention, or if it is a problem that should be included with our other chemical dependency problems. Obviously, one person is one person too many. But, that doesn’t mean that the community should focus efforts on a problem that may be no worse than other CD problems.

    The fact that the Chief did not and has not revealed how the numbers were calculated leads me to suspect that the 150 – 250 number was a wild guess. I suspect it was based off of a suggestion someplace (in the Hazelden report?) that concluded that there are probably 10 users for every person who enters treatment. If that is where he came up with his conclusions, then he, or Captain Schroeder, should tell us.

    As Peter points out, exaggerating the problem only makes it more difficult to address. Hopefully, one of these days an explanation will be coming from the police department. Until then, the best explanation is that the press conference was what most press conferences are – an attempt to grab media attention.

  5. Let’s do try to keep in mind that the Chief is on Medical leave and that the town knows no more than that, because although he is/was an important department head, there has been not one word at the council meetings of an update on his health, a good wish for his health and well-being, or any good wishes to his family. Not one word! Not even the most meagre common courtesy! Unbelievable.
    You might have thoughts about the way the infamous press conference was handled, but since when do you have your police chief on medical leave, and make zero mention of his condition? Mean spirited beyond any comprehension.
    There’s one supportive soul out on Hwy. 19, with a big, flashing sign that says “Support our Police Chief, Gary Smith”

  6. Kiffi, I think the lack of well-wishing towards the Chief is partly due to two factors:

    1) his unspecified criminal complaint against his boss, Al Roder, makes it hard for the council to do or say anything that could be seen as ‘taking sides’; and

    2) his decision to not reveal anything about his medical condition makes it hard for friends, acquaintences, colleagues, etc to be supportive, especially when his departure happened when the shit was hitting the fan with Roder.

    It’s all puzzling and disturbing.

  7. Griff, I think you make MY point in your comment #1, re: “taking sides”……….Isn’t that exactly what the council did when they agreed to pay the first $7500. of Roder’s legal fees? Were they not making assumptions as to who needed their support? After all both Roder and Smith are high ranking employees of the City Council; Looks like taking sides to me.
    NOT taking sides would be to say ,”We want to be supportive of our employees, and will support them with some level of legal fee reimbursement, when this situation has been resolved.” Isn’t that treating both employees more fairly?

  8. I would add a third factor to post #8

    3) his departure left a lack of leadership for a community response to the heroin concerns.

    We all wish him well with his health problems. Nevertheless, the concerns which he raised need to be addressed to determine how serious those concerns are.

  9. Kiffi- I don’t agree with your position that the council is taking sides by approving money for Mr. Roder’s defense. If these investigations are about Mr. Roder’s official duties in the city, it is a valid city expense and this is just proper procedure to commit the needed funds. What kind of reaction would come out if it was found out that legal funds were committed in a closed meeting? Also, can these types of legal fees just be turned in to the treasurer as a reimbursement item? If these investigations are about personal conduct, then that is a different story.
    At this point, we do not know what the investigation entails, and, fortunately, it has not been leaked to any news media in any redacted or unredacted form. I think it is unfortunate that ANY information about this investigation was communicated publically. I feel the credibility of it has been compromised. My hope is that the investigation can procede in a professional manner and no more information will be released until it is completed.

  10. I seem to either not be making myself clear, or I’m wrong, or you just don’t agree.

    What I’m saying is that BOTH Roder and Smith are city employees, both have attorneys and therefor fees, Smith is doing his job if there is something brought to him for investigation, and the filing of an investigation is a public matter, although the content of it is not , until/if it goes to court.

    So the unfairness, in my mind, comes in supporting the legal fees of the employee being investigated, but not supporting the employee who is bound by his job to bring the investigation.

    Do you still find that fair?

    Oh, and the council could have voted to reimburse an amount , rather than committing to paying up front.

  11. Kiffi- I see, now, what you mean. I agree on the fairness angle, if this is what is actually going on. This raises a question for me. Why does Cheif Smith need a personal lawyer? He is a law enforcement officer. He has the authority and obligation to investigate alleged criminal behavior. In his performance of these duties, he has the city and county attornies to back him up. He is merely carrying out the law and needs no defense. If he needs a personal lawyer to defend him in this investigation, then I ask, is it within the law?

    Mr. Roder, on the other hand, is the one being investigated. He does need an attorney for a proper defense. If the investigation concerns illegal activities, as alleged, in his performance of official city business, then his legal fees are a valid city expense. The council has the right and responsibility to designate money for this expense. Do you see what I mean?

    Returning to the original stream of thought on this blog, I think the churches in this town have a great advantage in curbing the use of illegal drugs in their young people. This is especially true of those churches that have strong, vibrant youth ministries. These churches usually have strong involvement between the parents and youth. Anything they can do to strengthen family relationships helps tremendously. We older parents with grown children can help in this endeavor by encouraging the young parents struggling to raise their children. This is really hard to do alone. I know, as we never lived any closer that a 3 1/2 hour drive to our own parents all the years our children were growing up. If we hadn’t had the envolvement, direction, and encouragement of older parents within our church during those years, we would not have had the success with our own children that we have.

    Relationship and communication foundations with our children must begin when they are very young. If they are not established then, they will not just miraculously happen when they become older. These young families need encouragement and direction, and there is a wealth of that in the older parents who have successfully raised our own children. It doesn’t do any good to set back and complain about how bad things are. It is just as bad, if not worse, as denying that there is a problem.

    I don’t know Pastor Ellingboe, but I think I would like to meet him. I like his concept of “Holy Discontent”. I think we need involvement on all levels. There is a ditty I saw many years ago that said, “If you’re going to pray for potatoes, then have a hoe in your hand!” I believe prayer is very important, and I believe action is very important. We, as churches, need to lay hold of the one and not let go of the other. After all, it is written that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.

  12. On legal fees –

    I don’t see it as reasonable that the city automatically pays any employee’s legal fees when that employee is accused of on-job improprieties… illegal conduct

    If he/she’s guilty… why would you feel obligated to pay for the defense?

    On the other hand, if the employee is proven to have done no wrong… and legal fees were incurred to defend against these alligations… that’s a different story, but one that would not be told until the action is resolved.

    Then it is appropriate… pick up the tab.

  13. Victor- That makes sense. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this investigation. Wonder if the whole thing will be released or a “redacted” version? (Ha! Ha!)

  14. Well, it looks as if the list of suspects just got a whole lot shorter. I’m surprised no one else has picked up on this, since it’s right at the top of the thread, in the interview with a young Northfield heroin user published in the September 21 issue of the Carletonian. The Carletonian article is a little hard to read, as it’s there only as an image of the print edition, but I was able to see it OK on the second click.

    Shane Auerbach, who conducted the interview and wrote the article, reported that “Adam” (a pseudonym) began using opiates at sixteen. “He started with an opiate similar to OxyContin. ‘I was exposed [to opiates] by the son of a cop; he had a friend who would bring it in from out of state because someone’s brother had a prescription . . . [the son of a cop] started getting kids into it, trying to give them good deals. It’s sick.’ ” The interview later returns to the subject of this dealer. “When asked whether Northfield had a distinct drug problem, Adam said, ‘It seems like it. . . It was a cop’s son bringing those pills; that’s how it all started.’ ”

    This certainly piqued my curiosity. It seemed to fit with some rumors that had been flying in July and August that involved at least two current or former Northfield police officers as well as the son of one of them. But the piece in the Carletonian didn’t really say where the dealer’s parent was a cop, so I called Shane Auerbach and asked him. He confirmed that the cop in question was in fact a Northfield cop, but he didn’t know any more than that. It seems like there may be a story here somewhere, though.

  15. I sure noticed it, Scott. I think it’s probably accurate…. son of a former cop. One of the anonymous youth I interviewed via phone mentioned this to me.

    While it might explain how it got started here, I don’t know that it matters now, though, does it?

  16. I think what matters is the perception, perhaps reality, that NF does not want its “dirty laundry” aired in public (who does?) ; but what MAY happen in NF is that the town is small enough that things are easier to cover up because someone knows someone who has the capacity to cover up, and the personal relationship gets in the way of the public responsibility.
    And that process just keeps getting worse and worse because some actions are covered up , and actions of others who have no one to cover up for them, are exposed. Of course that then leads to issues of principle, fairness, secrecy, etc.etc.

    Example: many people have ideas about who delivered”the packet” from city hall to the newspaper. Unless it was left in a baby blanket, in the dead of night, at the NFNews’s door, the newspaper certainly knows where it came from. Why do they not say? Are they then “covering up” or disclosing a source? What’s their responsibility? They haven’t ventured into that area of discussion.

  17. From: growing weary of this banter

    If you want to know the source of the “packet” leak to Suzzanne Rook… and whether it’s legal or not, I’d suggest three steps:

    1) Officially ask your Council person the question of legality, suggesting that it seems reasonable that someone connected with that packet (staff who prepared it – Council who received it) had the only likely hand in the transaction, therefore, the answer, like the “perp” must sit on the dais.

    1.a) Perhaps the League of Women voters, who may have more status in affairs of this nature than any one individual, could ask this on behalf of the Community. I’m reasonably confident League Board members monitor this blog. I also have a sense that LWV has met “in camera” with top officials recently in pursuit of fact disclosure of this nature.

    2) Then, assuming the entity asking the question, finds there is a legal issue in transporting the information in question, also ask if the paper is restricted in their use of “illegally obtained information. Seems this, (#2) is a question Council members could ask of the City Attorney. They have a right to know… a need to know.

    3) The legal issue now established, next ask Rook’s superiors to respond to suggestions they (the Nfld News) has been involved in an illegal use of “confidential” information.

    If the answers to these seem to support the conclusion: “improprieties have been going on”… what then?

    NOTE: Since it appears the Mayor, being the most likely to benefit from exposing the manner in which these packet notes penetrated the News system… It might make good sense to ask him to pursue this information on behalf of beleaguered citizens. (He’ll understand beleaguered)

    While other Council members might NOT want “His Honor” to “get involved” they can hardly rebuke him for responding to a citizen’s direct request. Or, for successful recognition of concerns, do requests need to be associated with rental properties, sidewalks, speed limits and the such?

    I assure you, if I had any official status, I’d lead the questioning.

  18. Griff–We probably have heard some of the same rumors, then. You have to be really careful with rumors; it could be that half of what you hear isn’t true, and the other half is made up, especially when you’re dealing with rather colorful characters. But there may be something behind them. If so, an understanding of what went on a couple of years ago may be essential to digging us out of this mess.

    Keep in mind that this is all speculation at this point. But if you do have sworn officers facilitating the drug trade, and drugs and cash disappearing (perhaps into their pockets), no matter how many counselors you hire at the high school, things aren’t going to get better.

    Also, to answer your question more directly, it matters a lot. If crimes were committed, they’re not yet history. There’s still plenty of time to prosecute. The way things stand now, probably every kid in town knows that the local cops–the guys that treat them like criminals for skating in Bridge Square or staying out 15 minutes past midnight–will stop at nothing to protect their own. If just one would come forward, it would send a strong positive message that at least some people in law enforcement are more committed to abstract principles of justice than to the doctrine of might makes right.

  19. Scott, I’ve never heard any rumors related to local law enforcement being involved directly or indirectly “facilitating the drug trade” as you put it, only that a chemically dependent son of a former officer was. And since the children of police officers are about as likely to have drug problems as the children of ministers, teachers, artists or bloggers, I didn’t make much of the info.

  20. Griff–No, if that’s all there was to it, I wouldn’t have brought it up at all. I know who you’re talking about, but there’s buzz that extends far beyond that father-son pair. I don’t know if you still have it on your site, but there was an anonymous post by “Minnesota Nobody” on Locally Grown last July 3 that mentioned, among other things, “the fact that . . . local business owners who ‘everybody’ knows sells dope can continue to operate with impunity. The cops even eat lunch at the guy’s place!!!” The shift from plural to singular seems to indicate that the poster had a specific individual in mind, but who knows.

    Some interesting posts are starting to come in on the Gary Smith interview thread. There are a lot of people in town who know a little bit, and there are probably a few people out there who know a lot. As a clearer picture emerges of what’s been going on in Northfield for the past 3 years or so, I expect we’ll be hearing from more of them. Nobody wants to be the first to start talking, but you sure wouldn’t want to be the last one, either! We can at least hope that the “Don’t snitch” mentality that prevails, especially among Northfield’s finest, will soon be replaced with a desire to “Do the right thing.”

  21. Bow wow!

    News from the N News

    Excerpted from the News’ Web site 10/11/07

    Drug dogs search high school

    press release from District Superintendent Chris Richardson.

    NORTHFIELD – A search of the high school by drug dogs Wednesday night revealed little or nothing

    Searching more than 1,200 lockers as well as PE lockers in use, the dog alerted on a physical education locker. A search of that locker by hand found no drugs.

    School officials will follow up with the student who uses the locker.

  22. Scott wrote:

    But if you do have sworn officers facilitating the drug trade, and drugs and cash disappearing (perhaps into their pockets), no matter how many counselors you hire at the high school, things aren’t going to get better.

    Scott, one of my twenty-something kids told us a story this weekend about a ‘friend’ who told him they had an experience like this within the past two years with a Northfield police officer, ie, getting busted in a car with a large amount of cash and pot and allowed to go free, minus the cash. The individual is no longer living in MN but I might still be able to contact them in an attempt to confirm its veracity.

  23. Beware of more uncalled for dog searches at the high school …as soon as anyone mentions the word “baseline” , whether its mammograms or colonoscopies, we know there will be more tests, done under the threat of “denial, hiding your head in the sand”, whatever.
    This time, can we PLEASE listen to the “specialists” in this area of research, the youth of the community? They said drugs would not be found in lockers, and they were not.
    I’m just appalled at dogs, handlers, police, school officials, and tired maintenance people roaming the halls of the high school at night, with the grand result of one smelly gym locker!
    Has everyone already forgotten the serious, thoughtful recommendations of the youth at the big meeting at the NCRC? They don’t want to have drug problems, they don’t want their friends to have drug problems, they don’t want their parents to have drug problems, they don’t want their community to have drug problems …they want honest talk, realistic drug education, safe anonymous referral programs, trained help for families suffering with these problems, and a supportive school environment.
    Adults of the community: why do you ignore the voices of your future? You raised them; do you think you did such a bad job that you can’t even listen to them?

  24. One thing I don’t remember that we have addressed in all this blogging on drug abuse is what it really is. Drug abuse is not the problem. It is the symptom of other underlying problems. Drugs are taken to assuage other problems. It is a pattern in our society. When we have an ache or pain, we take something to “ease the symptoms” (a discription found on most OTC drugs). This pattern has carried over into emotional aches and pains, also. If a child is hyperactive, we give them Ritalin to calm them down. If a child is depressed, we give them an “upper” to help them handle their lives. Is there any wonder that this pattern continues into adulthood? How many of us can start the day on an even keel without our caffien fix, let alone something stronger? I think we Americans have an unrealistic expectation that our lives should be free of pains and problems. How do we teach our young people to handle the pain and disappointments in their lives? There must be a foundation they can build on, and I believe no drug abuse program can be effective without it.

    Kiffe, you call the youth of this town the “specialists” in this area. Do you mean that they have the answers to these problems? Or are they specialists in knowing about what’s going on with their peers? Just wondering what you mean here. I would hope they are aware of what is going on in their classes and groups. What do you see as an effective way to encourage interaction between them and their parents to get this information out? Can this be done on a group basis or is it better to engage them on an individual basis, or is there need for both? Is this something that needs to be done within families or is it better in a “neutral” atmosphere (such as a class or a setting like the Key or church youth groups)? Somehow, there needs to be a connection between the youth and their parents. Right now, I feel that there are two camps sniping at each other, but then, isn’t this the way it has always been? The stakes are just higher now- literally life and death. And I will go back to my earlier statement- life is not a Disney movie with super smart and mature kids and bumbling adult idiots.

  25. Kiffi, really, “This time, can we PLEASE listen to the “specialists” in this area of research, the youth of the community?”.

    They are kids, for crying in the beer, they may have first-hand knowledge of the use, but they need some adults helping out. Unfortunately for them, the adults who do want to help need help themselves in figuring out HOW to get the point across. In the meantime, dogs in the school are a typical and possibly reasonable stop-gap measure, even if all it does is send a message that we are worried about this whole mess. Just because no drugs were found does not mean that the search was ineffective. See my post http://soleil.nfldinet.com/web/brucem/simcash/icotpeople/Bloggers/wordpress/?p=342 for more on that story.

  26. OK .. I give up! The point I’ve been trying to make here is just that the kids said there were no drugs kept in lockers AND there were no drugs found in lockers! FACT, yes or no?

    And the result of that? now the school, in what appears to be a very much self-protective mode is saying, whew! one problem taken care of; our campus isn’t as bad as everyone thought. And that is ( IMNSHO, to quote you, Bruce ) a very specious conclusion, which does zero to move toward any solutions.

  27. Not finding any drugs does prove that kids aren’t keeping drugs in their lockers overnight. I think that it also suggests that we shouldn’t use dogs again unless the school has probable cause to believe that kids have started stashing drugs in their lockers.

  28. If we had school buildings of 300 students or less, I’d be inclined to oppose using dogs to search for drugs.

    But with buildings of 1,000 students or more (is it 1,300 at NHS?), ‘crowd control’ tactics like drug-sniffing dogs are sometimes warranted no matter how much trust and adult-student communication there is. So I agree with you, Bruce.

    Would ARTech use drug-sniffing dogs, I wonder?

  29. I was at several airports recently, with thousands of teen-agers, small children and adults heading all over the world, and they didn’t seem at all traumatized by the small dogs sniffing their luggage. In fact, few people even noticed. I think having dogs in the school at night shouldn’t matter much one way or the other to students. The school is a public place, so there’s no expectation of privacy. It would be nice not to have them, and I question their value, but I don’t think the dogs should be the major concern right now.
    I do agree that using the results to prove there’s no drug problem is ridiculous. Drug use isn’t new or terribly complicated, so there are plenty of proven strategies and programs that can be adapted to Northfield. Some young people will end up OK and others won’t, just as some adults are OK and others spend a lifetime battling addiction — and others drift in and out of danger. We do what we can…
    The key is getting that baseline of information on drug use in place so any sudden changes can be spotted and targeted quickly. It sounds like that process is beginning to take shape at last, and that’s good news.

  30. I am not sure if I dare ask this question, but what about using random drug dog searches during the day? I was surprised they did the lockers at night because of the information received from the students. If police officers visited the school on a frequent basis, their presence could take on more of a feeling of friendliness. The students might get a chance to know them as a positive contribution to our community instead of a threat. The drug dogs might even do the same, though I do not think they are supposed to be petted etc. when working. Maybe the dog(s) could also be brought in when they are not “working.”

    Maybe I am too optimistic, but I do not think we give students enough credit. I do not think students who are not carrying drugs would see it as a threat, only those who are. No, it will not solve the problem of drug use, but the more places we can make it not an option the better.

  31. Christine- I think you can dare to ask any question on this blog. I don’t think flames are going to come up out of your keyboard and burn your fingers! (Ha!Ha!) I think you have a good idea there in doing random searches. And I would propose another area of search- the downtown sidewalks of DIvision, and the public parks. We might even be able to ferret (blood-hound?) out some dealers. These drugs have to come from somewhere.

    (I just had an idea- what about training ferrets to sniff drugs? They are cute and not as threatening as a large dog. And the old saying would fit.)

  32. If dog-sniffing dogs are the answer, would someone remind me what the problem is?

    Not finding any drugs is either great news or its results are meaningless. If its results are meaningless, then why are we doing it?

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