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4/19/05-Winnsboro

Outpouring Of Donations For New Drug-Fighting Police Tool

People in the City of Winnsboro are putting their money behind a renewed city effort -- to run drug dealers and meth cookers out of town.

Last week, 18-year-old Andrew Crouch died of a suspected drug overdose, and the city says its problem with methamphetamine must be met head on.

"One young man said if we've got people in here selling then we've got someone demanding it," said one of the speakers at a Monday meeting.   Parents and teachers gathered to say "Enough is enough"... selling and making drugs will not be tolerated in Winnsboro.

"The City of Winnsboro has pulled together and recognized the problem," says Police Chief Greg Hollingsworth, who's counting the money collected Monday night to get meth and other drugs off the street.

"Some [people were] writing checks for a thousand dollars, all the way to kids within our communities pulling dimes and quarters out of their pocket going to a cause to better our city,"  he says.

It's all to get a drug-sniffing dog. An animal to detect illegal drugs costs around $7,000 plus costs for training and upkeep.   Most of the initial cost has been raised.

"Our people in Winnsboro have, I believe, set an example. And it's a good example," says Chief Hollingsworth.

The dog will be able to roam the schools, and to be with officers on traffic stops. Hollingsworth says his city is making a stand, and it's something other communities, large and small, must face head on.

"Narcotics are being manufactured right here, in your town and in my town. And communities need to come together with their leaders, their churches, and their police departments and recognize that it is in their community," he says.

Plans to get a dog and train the officers are already underway.

All of this comes soon after a confidential survey of Winnsboro School students. Most of the seventh through twelfth graders surveyed said there was a drug problem in Winnsboro, and a full quarter of the kids admitted to trying illegal drugs themselves.

Reported by Morgan Palmer, palmerm@kltv.com

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