Newton Police and the Harvey County Sheriff's office made a splash this week. The last time we saw anything like this was more than a decade ago when police rounded up a dozen alleged drug dealers in one day. All of the then-dubbed "Dirty Dozen" were adults — selling meth, marijuana and other drugs.
This week there were 10 targets — nine have been apprehended. Wednesday officers went to the high school and served warrants on students.
According to police, all those arrested either attend NHS or have recently withdrawn. They were arrested on charges of selling marijuana, Xanax, oxycodone and hydrocodone. During the course of the investigation, police seized 74.5 grams of marijuana and 97 dosage units of prescription drugs. None of the cases involved weapons and the investigations did not present a danger to students or staff.
The arrests are the culmination of a two-month investigation by the Newton Police Department and Harvey County Sheriff's Office, in cooperation with USD 373 officials.
These arrests were a shock to the community, at least the wider community. To others, they were not. For months, the Harvey County Drug-Free Youth Coalition, organized by Mirror, Inc., has been meeting to talk about drug use — whether those drugs be illicit or illegally used and sold prescriptions.
They have asked questions like who is using and where they are (the answers were all ages and everywhere).
They have been asking what can be done.
This week will result in knee-jerk reactions and alarm — "There is a drug problem at Newton High School! We have to do something!"
There are people working on it — that coalition includes law enforcement, healthcare workers, mental health workers, drug prevention workers, Comunity Corrections workers, educators and more.
However, we must also remember that every city and high school has a "drug problem." There is not a place where people are not trying to escape reality by using drugs of some form. This week Newton chose to do something about it in a public way — to punish those who broke the law, and hopefully to deter future dealers. Carrying out these warrants sends the message that selling drugs in, or near, schools will not be ignored — no matter how old you are as a dealer.
We do not know how effective any punishment or prevention efforts can, or will be. But today we are saying good job to NPD, the Sheriff's Office, the district court, Community Corrections and all who helped with this effort. We also want to cheer on the coalition. This is a fight worth fighting and winning. Keep going.
— Kansan Editorial Board