FACING DOWN A DRUG CRISIS ON THE BORDER
Pharr, Texas, finds solutions in Truth About Drugs
The Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, the world’s largest causeway connecting two countries and an important Mexico-United States link, extends directly into Pharr, moving people and commodities. But among those commodities are illicit drugs, and that’s a crisis for Pharr.
In one notable drug bust, the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection Agency seized a tractor-trailer that appeared to be filled with tomatoes but whose actual cargo was $45 million worth of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
At the center of this narcotics storm is the Pharr Police Department. Recognizing that drug education is the only sustainable solution to the problem, the department runs a crime prevention program called C.A.P.E.—Community Awareness and Police Enforcement—aimed at encouraging residents of the community to feel safe in coming to the police with reports of drug activity. The goal is to build a community-police partnership working together for a safer Pharr.
As part of C.A.P.E., the police run a yearlong Red Ribbon campaign in schools and in the community, with the motto “Proud to be Drug-Free.” The Pharr PD is also a member of the Uniting Neighbors in Drug Abuse Defense coalition (UNIDAD).
It was through UNIDAD that the Pharr PD C.A.P.E. officer was introduced to the Truth About Drugs program and materials. Seeing them as the ideal tool for their own C.A.P.E. and Red Ribbon campaigns, the PD immediately adopted Truth About Drugs and put it to work.
First step: The Truth About Drugs booklets placed on the department reception desk for the public. Next, the Drug-Free World South Texas Coordinator trained the PD’s Community Liaison Officers to use the curriculum in schools, providing lesson plans, booklets, posters, public service announcements and films.
The C.A.P.E. officers also organized community events including the Pharr Police Community Festival, Pharr Crime Prevention Fair and 5K road races—all to promote a drug-free lifestyle and make it “cool” to be drug-free.
“NIGHT OUT IS ABOUT BRINGING OUT THE COMMUNITY SO IT CAN REALIZE THE DIFFERENT PARTNERSHIPS AND OUTREACH PROGRAMS WE HAVE AVAILABLE TO THEM.”
The annual Pharr Police Department’s Night Out drew thousands to a small strip of businesses near City Hall. The annual event dedicated to citizen outreach drew thousands for door prizes, food and entertainment.
“Night Out is about bringing out the community so it can realize the different partnerships and outreach programs we have available to them,” said Pharr Police Chief Ruben Vilescas.
Notable among those programs is Truth About Drugs, with nearly half the town’s citizens receiving the Drug-Free World message.
One C.A.P.E. officer says of Truth About Drugs, “Your program is our most effective tool in the fight against drugs.”
The Pharr Police Department’s mission is to keep the city’s three high schools free of drugs. As one officer put it, “You have a good feeling because some of us who got into law enforcement, we want to make a difference in our community.”
THE GREAT AMERICAN RELAPSE
The U.S. Now Leads the World in Illegal Drug Use.
The Facts Tell the Story:
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