The Cardinal

Drugs in Canfield?

An investigation into drug crime in the Mahoning Valley

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On March 10, 2018, at around 11:15 pm, two people, Christopher Thompson and Mandy Hale, were arrested in Struthers for the manufacture of the drug methamphetamine. Struthers has a slightly larger population than Canfield, but is nevertheless in the same county, suffering the same issues as Canfield. A glimpse of drug crime has been seen in Mahoning, but is it a problem in Canfield?

To get a sense of student awareness, a small survey was conducted of 50 high school students regarding drug usage and a variety of different types.

According to a rough survey, approximately 22% of students had ever done illicit drugs, including marijuana. Only 6% of students had done illicit drugs within the past month.

The students were also asked if there was a drug problem in Canfield or Youngstown. Almost 50% of students thought there was a drug problem in Canfield, with nearly 94% of students saying there was a problem in Youngstown.

With these perceptions in mind, I decided to bike on over to the Canfield Police Department and find out just how big of an issue drugs really are in our neighborhood. I sat down with local law official Josh Wells for an interview. Wells, along with the Department itself, has connections with the sheriff, neighboring police departments, regional task forces, and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“We’re not in a bubble,” commented Wells upon issue of regional interconnectedness.

Police departments classify at least 2 different kind of crime reports: proactive and reactive. A proactive report involves a police officer pulling someone over and discovering a crime. A reactive report would involve someone contacting the department and raising awareness of a threat or ongoing crime.

Proactively, about 50% of the crimes reported were, in some way, linked to drugs. Reactively, the number was closer to 20%. Based upon Wells’ estimates of the number of crimes reported, this gives us a general sense that, weekly, about 12-17 drug committed crimes are uncovered in Canfield. But how does this compare to the rest of Mahoning Valley?

Wells concluded that the City of Canfield is average in terms of drug-related crime. The percentage of drug crime is on par with neighboring cities, but crime, in general, is less frequent locally.

“We are not dealing with the same level of heroin and opioid addiction as some other areas are. It’s here, but it’s affect is not as profound,” Wells stated. “It’s hidden better here. It’s less frequent here, but it’s still here.”

According to Wells, the most common drug found on a daily basis is marijuana, by far. Secondarily, there has been a shift in the recent decades from crack cocaine to pills and heroin.

“I can’t say anything but marijuana is consistent,” commented Wells.

From there I transitioned into the enforcement of the law in regards to drug-related crime. Wells admitted that Canfield has had a relatively consistent strategy over the years, especially due to the fact that drug crime has remained stagnant.

“We’ve always maintained a very proactive stance on arresting drug offenders,” stated Wells. He also mentioned the continued support of school programs such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.).

“The biggest problem that we have with fighting this is that we try and use a blanket approach,” said Wells. “Everybody is different. I’ve meant plenty of people who went to rehab 10 other times… they are sent to rehab another time and it works.” Wells stresses the need for a flexible system, as the variance between individuals causes too many issues with a singular plan.

Wells also stressed the need to hold drug traffickers far more accountable and helping the addicted while also enforcing the law. The issue of decreasing drug-related crime appears to be a complex balancing act with many variables in place.

“It’s important never to give up!” added Wells.

The survey taken at the beginning of the article also had a section asking participants to rate certain drugs on a scale of 1-5, 1 being least harmful and 5 being most harmful.

Roughly 62.5% of students gave marijuana a 1, with several students advocating for a “0” option. Clearly the majority of students see marijuana as a mild drug.

When it came to harder drugs, the results varied. Almost 42% said that ecstasy was moderately harmful (3) and 33.34% said that LSD was very harmful (4). These were the largest percentages for these drugs. When it came to cocaine, 40% said extremely harmful (5) and 35% said very harmful (4). Almost 80% of students said that methamphetamine was extremely harmful (5).

The most decisive rating was of heroin, with 85% of students claiming it was extremely harmful (5).

How harmful are these drugs, however? Is marijuana really such a harmless drug and is heroin really that dangerous? In order to find out, I did some research and created episode 2 of Let’s Get Real w/ Gregory Halley. This episode is all about the medicinal effects of drugs.

The bottom line is this: drugs are a problem across America, and it is a complex and expansive issue with different opinions and factors. The variety of illicit drugs is very large. Many people argue for the legalization of marijuana, and many others argue for increased border patrol to decrease harder drugs.

Canfield may be a relatively safe community, but the rest of the world faces these problems on a daily basis. The best thing to do would be to follow the advice of Josh Wells:

“Never give up!”

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