White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Meets with Monroe County Coalition

Key West, Fl. –  Officials from the Office of National Drug Control Policy from Washington DC came to Key West on April 5th to meet with Monroe County Coalition during their recent trip to South Florida.  Thirty community stakeholders gathered together at the meeting at the Monroe County School District Headquarters in Key West representing law enforcement, government sectors, faith-based, youth serving, behavioral health providers, and other coalition members.  

During the meeting, Jim Carroll, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, shared substance abuse information and statistics about the drug epidemic and how the Trump Administration is working diligently on counter drug programs and directing funding to address this issue nationwide.  

“The drug problem in Monroe County is a top concern in the office currently,” Sheriff Rick Ramsay stated.  “Historically, marijuana, cocaine, and crack have been the most used substances in the county. Recently, there have been upticks in opioids and pharmaceutical prescription drugs,” Ramsay continued.

Key West Police Chief Donie Lee agreed with Ramsey and added “with limited manpower and resources, it is hard for a local police department to target so many different issues, including drugs. With programs, such as those made possible by partnerships through the Monroe County Coalition, such as alcohol Party Patrols and Know the Law presentations, our county is making some progress.”

The Monroe County Coalition is a group of stakeholders who work to reduce substance abuse in Monroe County.  Some of the work being done to reduce youth and young adult substance use include the following:

  • Alcohol Party Patrols by Key West Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Know the Law presentations being conducted by School Resource Officers.
  • No One’s House Public Service Announcements, a parent campaign that works to reduce the number of parents providing teens with alcohol and or allowing teens to drink in their homes.
  • The Guidance/Care Center, Inc. implements numerous substance abuse education prevention programs in all three high schools, middle schools and plans to expand to elementary schools next year.
  • Keys to be the Change works with schools on the importance of mentorship programs for youth, youth leadership peer-to-peer messages and the Lead and Seed program.
  • Florida Keys Children’s Shelter All Stars prevention program.
  • Alcohol licensed vendor training, policies and signage and compliance check operations for safe serving practices.

Executive Director for Monroe County Coalition, Susan Moore stated, “Monroe County Coalition has created an integrated prevention system, utilizing multiple strategies across multiple sectors to create the greatest change.”  She continued, “Previously in 2006, past 30-day alcohol use among high school students in Monroe County was 59 percent; Now, the rate is 36 percent.” Captain Nate Dinger of the Florida National Guard Counter Drug Program indicated that the success of groups such as the Monroe County Coalition, who utilize multiple sectors in their work, create a continuum of care that addresses the issue from all angles.

Needs of the county were also discussed during the meeting.  For example, funding is needed to support various sectors in Monroe County to aid in the availability of providers to address substance abuse, school resource officers are needed in each of the schools in the county, and a comprehensive drug prevention educational campaign for youth to make informed decisions. Director Carroll commended the coalition group and its great partnerships and took note of the special needs shared by the coalition.