Police tell Aurora parents: Kids can hide drugs almost anywhere

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER Published:

Aurora -- Pop cans. Air freshener containers. Potato chip canisters.

They were among 150 to 200 everyday items displayed on tables by police that they say youngsters sometimes use to fool their parents while hiding marijuana and other drugs.

"Marijuana use is big. It crosses [generational] boundaries," said Marcie Mason, a youth worker with the Copley Police Department. "The levels of THC are much higher today than in the 1980s. Kids don't perceive the dangers of smoking marijuana today."

Mason was one of four police officials from Copley and Bath who spoke April 7 to more than 100 parents and adults at Aurora High School. The program, called "Hidden in Plain Sight," was set up by Superintendent Russ Bennett.

"It's really important as a community to talk about the issues that are out there," Bennett told the audience. "Keeping our kids off drugs is a real problem. We can't live in a bubble or put our heads in the sand. It's happening in every community. We're trying to keep kids alive.

"You can't scare kids straight," he added. "Be a parent, not a friend."

Prior to the 1 1/2 hour program, adults were invited on stage in the AHS auditorium for nearly a half-hour to examine the various items used by children to hide drugs.

Among them: Bottles and cans were disguised as marijuana pipes, a dictionary had part of its inside pages cut out to conceal a marijuana joint, and drugs resembled pieces of candy.

Duane Scott, a Copley police DARE and SRO officer, said marijuana smoking devices also include tire gauges and plastic water containers.

"It goes on and on," he said, referring to the items used to disguise drugs. "Check the trash. When you're checking their rooms, check any gifts from grandma [that may have been altered]."

Paul Webb, a Copley police detective, added, "If you find aluminum foil sitting out, look around for marijuana. [Smoking devices] are anywhere mom wouldn't think to look."

Webb urged parents to lock up medicines in their houses.

Aurora Police Officer Chris Reiter told the audience that youngsters are getting leftover medications that adult family members may have used when they broke their arm or hurt their back, for example.

Scott urged parents to be aware of alcoholic drinking games and binge drinking by their children.

"They want to put as much [alcohol] in them as fast as they can," Scott said. "They're not going to be social drinkers like adults."

Lisa Baker, a Bath police dispatcher, said youngsters sometimes use tampons that are soaked in alcohol .

Webb told of an 18-year-old Copley woman, who while drinking with several friends in 2010, leaped out of a car window and eventually froze to death because she was so intoxicated. He said her friends, also drunk, apparently figured she'd be OK and never bothered to check on her. The young woman's body was found the next day, he said.

Mason told parents they should "snoop, be nosy and look through your kids' book bags."

"Talk to your kids," Mason said. "Communication is the best way to deter drug use. Most kids are good kids. Most kids' rooms aren't like [the ones we described]. Give them a hug, tell them you love them and tell them you'll help them."

Reiter stressed that parents should always be supportive of their children.

"Tell your kids, 'You can call me anytime, anywhere and we'll get you out of that situation,'" Reiter said. "Don't tell them that you'll throw them out of the house if they come home with marijuana. Kids can't fear going home."

For copies of the police powerpoint presentation, email Baker at ebaker@bathtownship.org.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

Facebook: facebook.com/mike.lesko.378

Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC

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