WALKER, Mich. – Keeping children off drugs is a seemingly never ending war. The Walker Police Department has tried a new approach, which according to Walker Public Safety Director Catherine Garcia-Lindstrom, is working.
For years, the only place to get free drug testing kits was to take a trip to the police station.
“Parents are usually reluctant to come to the station because then it’s basically a label, my kid might have an issue,” said Chief Garcia-Lindstrom.
When the drug kits aren’t being used, no one can know who’s using it or what they’re using.
“Just finding out they tested positive is one thing,” she said. “now where do they go for help?”
Parents can now go to their child’s school to get a drug test without any fear of repercussions from police. Not only that, parents are given resources of where to get help.
When that happened, Chief Garcia-Lindstrom said the number of drug test went from just 12 a year when offered at the police station, to 150 kits a year when available at the schools.
All police what to know is the age, the gender, the grade, and what school requested the test so they can keep up with the latest trends.
The chief said one parent got a test after their ‘straight-A’ student started hanging out with a different crowd.
“(The parent) was honestly thinking maybe (the student was) experimenting with a little marijuana. Turns out, the student was hooked on heroin,” she said.
Just one example of why principals like Katie Pennington of Kenowa Hills High School said the system works as long as the parents are given an opportunity to get their child help.
“It’s crucial,” said Pennington. “Without the next step, the cycle repeats itself. It’s nice to give the information out to parents, whether or not their child is using, but if they don’t know where to go next. It’s kind of pointless.”
Police in turn use the data they collect to further educate their own officers and teachers on what to be on the lookout for when it comes to students and drugs.
The kits are provided for free thanks in part to grant money.