Prevention is the Answer

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Chief Dennis Young

Winchester Police Department

A law enforcement agency is the ambassador for any city. A police officer responds to citizens during the times of their greatest needs. We try to render justice to those victimized by crime, help those that are injured and suffering, weed out the criminals from the community, and work diligently with the community to help create an environment where crime cannot exist. While we want to be the very best at solving crime and rendering assistance, we have learned taking a more proactive stance in crime prevention and intervention is the key to success.

The Police Department has more interaction with the community than all other city departments combined.  The standard for excellence in our training and staffing is of the upmost importance. As we built this department, we looked at three words that would withstand the test of time as an anchor for excellence and direction. The words were- Change, Innovation, and Teamwork. We had to be able to change and accept change in the way we conducted business, the hardest of the three for no one likes change. We had to be innovative, come up with new ideas and ways to accomplish our goals, and finally we had be a Team, a unit working together to be the best and never settling for anything less. As Margaret Mead said, “’Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Eight years ago, we embarked on a mission of implementing a strategy developed over time by the Department of Justice known as the “Weed and Seed Strategy”.  We traveled extensively studying and researching this strategy about forming partnerships and developing those partnerships. We attended conferences from Atlanta to Los Angeles listening and learning from those that implemented this strategy. The Franklin County Prevention Coalition, 12th Judicial District Drug Court, and Winchester ICAC unit are some examples of what has been established as part of this Strategy.  The greatest example of this working partnership with the community is the “Stop Meth Now” Campaign.  As a community working together we have realized a 70% drop in the production of methamphetamine, 100% elimination of the criminal enterprise known as smurfing (those buying primary precursors for the production of meth) and a 14% reduction in the overall crime rate in our community in 2013. With the success we have shown and the 18 cities across this state that has followed our lead, the State Legislature has been compelled to take on the issue of prescription legislation for the primary precursor of methamphetamine. We are presently on the House and Senate Floor working for the best possible bill to protect the innocent. With God’s help and guidance, we will continue our mission to protect the children and our communities from the scourge of meth production in 2014.

In February this year we presented to the 2014 CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions across America) National Leadership Conference in Ann Harbor, Maryland,  and shared what we have accomplished as a community working together in a true partnership. Over the last eight years, our community has experience a 47% drop in crime rate due to us building a Strategic Prevention Network of partners dedicated to rebuilding our community through intervention, prevention, and education.

The year 2013 is a year to be remembered with so much accomplished. I have had the opportunity to travel across this state with Tommy Farmer, Director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force and Tabatha Curtis, Director of the Franklin County Prevention Coalition sharing a message of hope for the future safety of the endangered children.  I have gotten to meet and work with so many dedicated professionals and community leaders it would be impossible to mention everyone, just know you all have touched my heart and are making a difference. A special thanks to the City of Winchester for allowing me to be gone so much this past year.

I have had the pleasure of serving my community for 34 years.  On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig after being diagnosed with what is known today as “Lou Gehrig Disease” stated in Yankee Stadium, “Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth”. I use to think that was a strange quote from someone facing what he was facing. History is the best lesson, today I understand.

It is an honor and I am humbled to be,

Your public servant,

Chief Dennis Young

Winchester Police Department