Prevention Education, Law Enforcement Procedures Topics of House Republican Policy Committee Public Hearing
5/30/2007
Members of the House Republican Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), heard testimony today from law enforcement officials and drug treatment experts at a committee hearing on Pennsylvania’s drug policies.
 
The hearing, held at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland, Beaver County, was hosted by Rep. Jim Marshall (R-Beaver). Reps. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery), Gordon Denlinger (R-Lancaster) and Fred McIlhattan (R-Clarion/Armstrong) were also in attendance. 
 
“The proliferation of drugs into Beaver County and throughout the Commonwealth is a major issue and concern for the Legislature,” said Marshall. “I’m pleased that we were able to hear such substantive testimony from the people who are fighting on the front lines of the war against drugs everyday.”
 
“As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen first hand the serious problems associated with drugs,” said Vereb. “The goal of these hearings is to identify where in the enforcement structure we can make improvements to better protect our communities.”
 
Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh testified that he sees the drug issue as a three-prong problem in his county and must be dealt with through enforcement, treatment, and education and empowerment.
 
“We don’t treat the drug business as an economic enterprise,” Berosh said. “Why don’t we talk about drug wholesalers and retailers in an economic sense? We need to find a way to treat them economically, treat them like a business. There is demand for this product, but they expect to benefit from the fruits of their labor. The retailers and the wholesalers are in our towns. Until we are prepared to attack them economically, they’ll always spend their money and that’s where they are exposed. If we really want to attack the problem, we have to attack it as an economic problem as well.”
Berosh and the testifiers from the law enforcement panel agreed that the abuse of pharmaceuticals is a major problem. Robert Berchtold, chief of police for the Chippewa Police Department, said that in his personal experience, he has noticed an increase in use of pharmaceutical drugs, including oxycontin, and cocaine. 
 
“That’s a hard issue to deal with because the manufacturer is legal and the seller is legal,” Berosh added.
 
Ray Coleman, from the Prevention Network, discussed the need for an increase in prevention education and treatment. According the data from the Uniform Crime Report, in Beaver County, there has been a 9 percent increase in drug manufacturing and possession crimes, a 16 percent increase in juvenile drug crimes and a 22 percent increase in alcohol-related offenses, Coleman said.
 
“Zero tolerance policies do not work if they are not paired with intervention and treatment; addiction is a powerful thing,” he added.
 
“Drugs don’t just affect the person using them, but their family, friends and community as well,” said Vulakovich. “We need find better ways to combat this issue to ensure that we protect as many of our children and their families as we can from the devastation of drug abuse.”
 
“In the United States, we are spending millions of dollars on drug users and drug rehabilitation,” said Berchtold. “Unfortunately we are not winning this battle. That’s why I would like to see more money spent on educating our young children of the perils of drug use. It’s time to be proactive, not reactive.”
 
“Today’s testifiers gave great insight into areas that can be improved in regards to drug enforcement and treatment procedures,” Turzai said. “They gave us tangible solutions, as well as providing insight into what it’s like to deal with this issue everyday.”
 
The House Republican Policy Committee has scheduled three additional hearings on drug prevention. The committee is gathering testimony to help develop legislation to better aid law enforcement, as well as drug prevention procedures.

 
Rep. Mike Turzai
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(412) 369-2230
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 787-3993
Member Site: RepTurzai.com
Caucus Site: PAHouseGOP.com
Rep. Jim Marshall
14th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(724) 847-1352
(717) 260-6432
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 787-3993
Member Site: RepMarshall.com
Caucus Site: PAHouseGOP.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2007