Editor's note: This is the second of a three-week series looking at crime trends in Nicholasville. Next week: traffic offenses and false alarms
While city officials characterize Nicholasville’s crime rate as low, like many other communities, it too has its fair share of drug-related crimes.
But Nicholasville’s main drug problem isn’t the more commonly known drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. This area’s biggest drug problem, according to Nicholasville police Sgt. Scott Harvey, is prescription-drug abuse.
“(Prescription drug abuse) is the biggest problem, and we are getting small amounts of heroine now,” Harvey said. “The only reason I bring that up is that we haven’t seen that in years, and it is still a very small amount.”
Harvey said heroine abuse is nowhere near the level of prescription drugs.
The Nicholasville Police Department doesn’t keep track of drug arrests by category, but in 2010, the NPD made 588 drug-related arrests. That number dropped to 430 in 2011.
Police say the drop in number is a result of being involved with a joint task force with the Kentucky State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In addition to being involved with the task force, the department has taken proactive steps in the fight.
In February 2008, the police department mailed letters to the many physicians and other health-care professionals in Jessamine County that included the names of people who had been convicted of some type of prescription-drug abuse, and police chief Barry Waldrop said that has helped in the fight.
“I’ve had several doctors and dentists called wanting an updated list because they’ve been using that list for a while now,” Waldrop said. “They’ve been using that list, and they’d like to have a new one, and we just haven’t got it to them yet, but we’re in the process of putting together another list to take around and distribute it.”
Responding to the rise in popularity of “synthetic” drugs, in March, the Nicholasville City Commission passed ordinance 829-2012, which bans the possession or sale of AM cannabinoids, CP cannabinoids, JWH cannabinoids and HU cannabinoids — otherwise known as “synthetic” marijuana.
Synthetic drugs were sold under brand names such as Spice, K3, Genie and Zohi, to name a few, and were marketed as bath salts or insect repellant. Adverse effects from ingesting those products include hallucinations, vomiting, numbness/tingling, increased respiration and blood-pressure problems, and the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration has classified “synthetic” products as “a drug of concern.”
But since the city enacted the ordinance, police have seen marked improvement, Harvey said.
“Prior to the ordinance, we had been on several overdoses involving these drugs, and had people openly smoking it while they walked up the street,” he said. “Since the passing of the ordinance, we have had almost no problems like this. It’s hard to say whether or not the ordinance pushed it behind closed doors, but we have seen a big change since it passed.”