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Teens, captain dialogue on drugs

Sheriff’s Station captain hosts frank talk about SCV’s drug scene

Posted: March 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: March 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.

When other students at Rio Norte Junior High School offer her marijuana or alcohol at school, Bailey Kramer, 13, remembers her older brother’s mistakes before telling them no.

Her brother started selling and using pot and ecstasy when he was 13, and got into serious trouble at home and school.
“Just seeing what my brother’s been going through, he’s got a lot more violent and he’s isolated himself,” Kramer said. “He got kicked out of my dad’s house, and I don’t want to be going through that because I can see how hard it is.”

Kramer was one of about 300 teenagers and parents who talked about their drug experiences with Capt. Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station at Santa Clarita City Hall on Wednesday.

During an hourlong discussion, Becker asked the teens in the audience where and why the reasons for teenage drug use.

The discussion, arranged by city volunteers and members of the city’s Visions in Progress Youth Advisory Committee, was intended to gather information to develop programs to curb drug use in the SCV.

Becker said when he took command of the Sheriff’s Station last year, he was surprised by how prevalent drug abuse among teenagers had become in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“What really struck me was the number of 17- to 25-year-olds that had severe narcotics addiction(s),” Becker told the audience. “I have never in my 30-year career seen so many 19-, 20-, 21-year-olds that were mainlining heroin. It was very shocking to me.”

In July, the station launched the Juvenile Intervention Team, or J-Team, to crack down on drug use in the Santa Clarita Valley. Since its inception, J-Team authorities have arrested 150 people, according to a statement released Wednesday.

The teens in the audience had several possible explanations for why their peers turn to drugs: boredom, peer pressure and the glamorization of drug use in television and movies.

West Ranch High School junior Josh Kang said Charlie Sheen’s public shenanigans have made him more famous.
“You look at Charlie Sheen right now, he does drugs, and he gets $1.5 million an episode,” Kang said. 

“He’s got tiger’s blood,” Becker said. The audience laughed.

“The smart ones know he might not survive another year or two,” Becker said.

Visions in Progress member John Kim, 18, said the group had passed out flyers for the event at schools and asked teachers to give their students extra credit for coming to the event.

“The whole purpose of this event is to provide law enforcement with an education,” Kim said. “Being able to learn from our perspective is crucial in the fight against drugs.”

Kramer said her dad encouraged her to go and talk about her experience with her brother, who is now 17.

“My dad was really frustrated by (my brother),” Kramer said after the talk. “I don’t want to strain my relationship with my parents.”


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