Ocean County Hosts Second Drug Forum [AUDIO]
Not a war on drugs, but a fight for survival.
That's how Ocean County's top law man, Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, describes their aggressive efforts to crack down on a triple-digit drug overdose death rate.
As part of those efforts, the Prosecutors Office will be hosting its second drug forum toward the south end of the county to reach parents and youth. Juvenile Unit Agent Michael Cowell said early intervention has proven effective.
"Most experts agree the age is about 21. If you can bring the child along to the age of 21, there is a far far greater chance that they will never abuse those substances for the remainder of their lives," explained Cowell.
Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Anthony Piero said they're hoping that a crack down on dealers and a dwindling client base will cripple drug activity in the county.
Piero also explained the prosecutor is also hoping to send a clear message to drug dealers.
"His message is if you distribute these substances in our community you will be held legally responsible. That we will spare no expense and no effort to find out who is poisoning our children? Who is bringing these substances into this community? Who is distributing these substances and to lock them up for as long as the law provides."
Ocean County's youth and parents appear to be ready to listen to the message as well. The first forum at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River in October drew nearly 2,000 people, when the prosecutors office had only expected a few hundred.
The "Your Kids Count: Can We Talk?" forum that's being held Thursday, December 12th, at the Stafford Township Arts Center in Manahawkin, will feature special guests Former Giants Running Back Keith Elias, a drug enforcement official with the State Attorney General's office, and Jesse Morella, a young man who's drug use permanently crippled him.
The program runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at 1000 Mckinley Avenue in Manahawkin, NJ 08050. Because seating is limited, registration is encouraged by Monday December 9th, online or by calling (732) 886-4757
At last count, Ocean County's overdose death rate has reached 104 this year.