Task force isfacing threetrouble spots

Although the Bladen County Opioid Task Force got off to a strong start when it was formed back in October, and has since stuck several feathers in its cap to begin the battle against the ever-growing opioid crisis — primarily through the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office — it’s push to move forward has begun to wane.

The reason for that could be seen as a three-headed naysayer — each of which, to some degree, have been supercilious, phlegmatic and unenthusiastic.

Our first finger points to the Bladen County District Attorney’s Office, which has been resistant to the Sheriff’s Office efforts to create a successful Jail Diversion Program, as well as with the entire Opioid Task Force itself. So much so, in fact, there has been no member of the local DA’s Office present at recent Task Force meetings.

The Jail Diversion Program can be a positive tool for the Sheriff’s Office and the court system as a whole, but without a partnership between law enforcement and the prosecution, the effort will be doomed to crumble.

We urge the DA’s Office to step up and get back on board.

Our second finger points to the Bladen County Schools administration, which has shown only minimal interest in the Opioid Task Force efforts and has rarely sent more than one individual to the meetings.

We recall several months ago when Superintendent Robert Taylor told the Opioid Task Force there was no opioid problem in his schools — an incredibly naive and ingenuous claim.

The real fact of the matter is this: A majority of those who will be experimenting with drugs — whether it be an athlete looking for quicker healing or pain toleration, or just someone who wants to fit in — will be teenagers in our schools. And those who are trying gateway drugs are getting younger and younger all the time.

Bladen County Schools — and we include Central Office employees, principals, counselors and school board members — must get involved with the Opioid Task Force if the effort going forward is to be successful.

And our final finger is pointed at the faith community in Bladen County.

Although several area pastors have shown interest and a few continue to attend the monthly meetings, there remain dozens and dozens of faith leaders out there who have shown no interest in joining the fight against opioids — a problem that is most certainly alive within their own congregations.

If there is a single group in Bladen County where a captive audience of adults and youth can be reached quickly, it is through our churches.

On Thursday, May 24, a community forum will be held at Bladen Community College starting at 6:30 p.m. It is our hope that all three of the above groups are strongly represented — along with a solid showing of interested residents. It could be an important turning point for the future of the Opioid Task Force and this county as a whole.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)