“Always do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.” These are words of advice I received when I graduated the police academy a short nineteen years ago. They were from the keynote speaker who was a man that I had great respect for. Little did I know then how those words would stick with me to this day. They were also the words that I first thought of when I heard the theme of this year’s red ribbon week. And I believe it fits, especially when we are talking about abusing drugs. I guess if you think about it, there is never a good time or reason to abuse drugs. Regardless of what you tell yourself or what others say. Doing the right thing is not always easy, it's not always fun, and it’s not always our first inclination. But if you do what’s right, regardless of what others think, you will set yourself on a path in life that should lead you where you need to be.
There is a saying, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” I have come in contact with many people over the years who have actually told me, “There is nothing else to do around here, so we just get high.” Really? You mean to tell me that you can’t find ANYTHING better to do? Maybe try taking up a hobby. Hunt, fish. Heck, you could take up underwater basket weaving and it would make more sense than using drugs as a pastime. The point is, we must take the time to introduce new interests to our kids and impressionable youth. Kids, get involved in school, sports, or civic activities. The more you fill your life with that which is useful and purposeful, the less time you will have for drugs. It’s a fact; I have never met a crack head with a busy schedule.
Like most places around the country, here in St. Mary Parish we combat a variety of drugs on a daily basis. One of the most prevalent is methamphetamine, which I will refer to as “meth.” Meth use in the area is on the rise. This is disheartening if you are aware of the destructive nature of meth. Meth is a drug that will continue taking from the user until there is nothing left. Meth takes your money, looks, family, and your teeth. That’s right…grill…gone. We have dealt with people who have fought with meth addiction over a period of time. It’s amazing. Not only does meth destroy the body, but it destroys a person spiritually. Meth seems to change the nature of the person’s ethical compass.
The majority of the meth that we see in the area comes from another country. I won’t say where, but it rhymes with Mexico. There, drug cartels are producing mass quantities of the drug and flooding American streets with it. The chemicals needed to produce the drug are not as controlled there and are more easily obtained. What chemicals are in meth you ask? Well, that’s a good question. Some more commonly used items to make meth are ephedrine, lye, camping fuel, anhydrous ammonia, and red phosphorous. You know…health food. This is ironic since if I asked someone to walk over to the cleaning supply closet and just start drinking the chemicals (don’t…do…this), they would think I was crazy. Well, what’s the difference? You are ingesting hazardous chemicals that were NEVER meant for human consumption. So, when meth destroys your body and brain it shouldn’t be much of a shock.
I believe that there is a great need for continued education about drugs of abuse in our community. Recently, there was a problem of epidemic proportions involving the use of synthetic marijuana in the parish. I am glad to say, we have seen a steep decline in the use and seizures involving synthetics. Does this mean they are gone? Absolutely not. They are alive and well in the area. However, the message has gotten out that synthetics are bad news. I believe that this is directly related to the overwhelming interest from our parish schools, parents, churches, and civic groups in regards to the dangers of synthetic drugs. Heck, there was a time when members from the St. Mary Sheriff’s Office were giving presentations on synthetics multiple times a week, to a variety of audiences. I think this joining of the community and law enforcement was crucial in making headway in the war on synthetics. And this success has given me hope. Hope that the work that law enforcement does is not in vain and that our concerns and warnings for the community have not fallen on deaf ears. And when you have these groups working together, doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.
Captain John Kahl, Jr.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office
Criminal Investigation and Narcotics Divisions Commander
I made it to the ripe old age of 49. Yes boys and girls, 49. As I approached my birthday this past September, I refused to say that number and did not mentally want to hear it. Yes, I know I’m one year away from 50. Aren’t I supposed to have the wisdom of the world by now? I do have a little. Here it is.
No one person always makes the right decisions all the time. We make mistakes and must deal with the results. The best part about this is if we survive, we do not have to make that same mistake again and can help others with our experience. Stay with me…you have got to understand that making a decision will have what’s called – consequences. It’s a big word. I define consequences as the result of something you choose to do or not to do.
Back in the 90’s, I was on a complaint dealing with a suspect that had cut another individual. In the course of bringing him in, I came across a person who made a decision that would have long lasting consequences on me, my family, and even you who are reading this. That person decided to drink and drive. He crashed head on into my patrol unit. I was trapped. The car caught fire. Friends from the Sheriff’s Office and Morgan City Fire Department got me out. I went to the hospital where I stayed for almost a month. I have had three surgeries as a result of the crash. But, I’m not the only one who suffered because of that person’s decision. My wife had to change her life because of it, my parents changed because of it, my coworkers were affected because of it. Even my kids, who weren’t even born yet, have been affected by it.
When you are about to make a decision, you fall back on what you already know. Sometimes, we may not be fortunate enough to have that knowledge to guide us. We have got to look at what might happen if we do it, or don’t do it. When you’re out hanging with your friends, trying your best to fit in, and somebody decides that alcohol or marijuana use is a good idea, you have to evaluate what is good for you. The decision to use can bring a lot of negative consequences. It affects you immediately and in the long term. The decision to use drugs may bring acceptance from those around you; but are those the people you really need? You may run afoul of law enforcement and end up with a lot of unwanted attention (incarceration, probation). You may become drug dependant. In the long run, you may damage relationships with loved ones and family. Oh and by the way lets stop thinking about ourselves for a minute. What about those strangers out there that will be forced to live with the consequences of your decision to use drugs if things go badly?
The decision to not use may mean that those so called friends won’t accept you. Wow, think about that. You will be forced to find friends that have a positive impact on you. The decision to not use will mean that you don’t have to worry about trouble with your parents, teachers, bosses, or law enforcement. Not using means you will have time to finds things that are positive and help you in the future.
O.K. so the ramblings of an about to be 50 year old are short but maybe not so sweet. It’s all about how you want to live your life. We make decisions every day that point us in the direction that we will be heading. If that decision about drug use is – yes – you can plan on a lot of negative consequences coming your way. If the decision to use drugs is –no – then positive consequences are bound to be in your future.
Detective Howard Rogers, Jr.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office
Detective Howard Rogers sharing the story of his encounter with an impaired driver at the 2015 D.A.R.E. graduation at Bayou Vista Elementary School