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Coal City police ready to distribute drug tests

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 9:22 p.m. CST

COAL CITY – Coal City police is offering peace of mind to suspicious parents who want to know whether their child is using drugs, police chief Tom Best said.

The Grundy County State’s Attorney’s office provided 50 drug testing kits to the Coal City Police Department after the city hosted a forum on heroin last month. Best said, the department was ready to distribute the free drug kits to parents as of last week.

The department wanted to make sure the city and other officials condoned the program before distributing the kits, Best said, so the department waited for city approval at last month’s village board meeting before moving forward.

“This is essentially so [parents] can know if their child is using and can take further steps to ensure the safety of their child,” Best said.

He assured parents the police department would not follow up with any charges if their child tests positive. The priority is treatment, not punishment, he said.

“It’s a very simple process. We hand them out and we don’t do any further investigation,” Best said. “We include a fairly extensive letter, including resources they can use if they do find a positive result.”

The test does not cover every type of drug but will register common drugs, such as marijuana, opiates, certain prescription drugs and cocaine.

State’s Attorney Jason Helland said, his office buys the drug testing kits through the county’s drug court program. His office uses the kits on drug court participants who are tested weekly.

Drug court is an option for eligible offenders who undergo a treatment program, rather than jail to become productive members of society.

When enrollment in drug court is low, there is a surplus of tests. Helland said, because the tests have expiration dates, they usually offer up the extras to local parents.

This is the first time Helland’s office has distributed the tests to a police department, he said.

“We did that because of the heroin forum,” Helland said. “There was a lot of people after the forum approaching Tom Best, so we thought we’d make that option available.”

Minooka is set to host a heroin forum similar to Coal City’s in the coming months. Helland said he will probably distribute the tests to Minooka police at that event, as well.

“It kind of intercepts the problem at a crucial stage,” Helland said. “If they get the right, appropriate treatment at the right time, they can lead a better lifestyle and don’t have to become an addict.”

Best said the department has not handed out any kits since making them available last week, but has received phone calls from several interested parents.

“I think we will hand some out shortly,” he said.

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