Time To Change The Culture
Friday, July 13, 2012 • 8:53pm
There is a drug culture that is gaining momentum and popularity within our community. This culture is growing and spreading. It is gathering strength in some respect due to an atmosphere of apathy and deniability within our citizenry. It is tightly interwoven into the lifestyles of a great many of our young people. Its stranglehold is quickly becoming evident. This culture dissolves hope, extinguishes dreams, fractures families, incarcerating body and soul until it puts people into a far to early grave.
Corporate America is continuously researching and implementing new and innovative ways in which to transform their own respective work place culture. They do this in order to stay competitive in an unsteady, unpredictable, global economy. If they are not successful, they will not survive. Many do not.
In our community, if we are not successful, in reversing this drug culture, the possibility of surrendering a generation to drug addiction could evolve into reality.
This culture is not unique to Sparta alone. This epidemic has been absorbed into an entire society across the nation and beyond. The officers in the Sparta Police Department do not propose to save the world…just our little slice of it. To formulate a plan of action, the problem has to be identified and understood
A significant number of our youth now more than ever, are experimenting heavily with narcotics, becoming addicted to heroin along with prescription medications. These addicts are committing collateral crimes to support their growing habits. While high police visibility combined with proactive intelligence gathering and interdiction, still represents the greatest deterrent to crime. The secret to success is to stop the addiction before it begins.
This past Tuesday, Sparta Town Council Member, Molly Whilesmith, Sparta resident and Sparta Little League Football Vice President, Mrs. Chris Quinn, Officer Richard Smith and I were invited to attend the second Public Hearing of The Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse’s Task Force at the Mendham location of the Rev. Joseph H. Hennen Daytop Prepartory School.
This is a Non-sectarian Licensed Private School providing Special Education Services to adolescents in recovery. At the hearing I testified on behalf of the department as to what we were experiencing in Sparta Township as to the growing Heroin problem. I also described what our Command Staff and officers have been developing to help reverse this drug culture here in our community
Traditional Law Enforcement methods need to partner with nontraditional ideas and concepts. That means developing and implementing a new culture that will be embraced and spread by the children and teens of this town. One of the greatest needs a human being desires regardless of age is the need to be accepted. People tend to adopt and conform to the behavior of others around them. This makes culture change extremely challenging. In our case however, The Sparta Police Department believes within the problem is embedded the solution.
Officers of The Sparta Police Department are currently developing what will be known as; “The Sparta Township Youth Police Division”. The mission objective is; Reverse negative peer pressure and attitudes by introducing a strong, positive force of children and teens into our local schools and community who are trained and educated in Drug Awareness, Anti-Bullying concepts and will maintain a large visible community presence by their positive actions and public service. These recruits will also be trained in Basic First Aid and Certified in C.P.R.
The Youth Police Division will be attached directly to the Department’s Patrol Division. These recruits will be required to attend a one week academy where they will be in uniform as they are taught and mentored on how to achieve the Youth Police Division’s goals and objectives. Recruits will have to abide by a set of rules and regulations that will attach both at the academy and in their every day lives. These recruits will serve along side our officers at community events.
Upon graduation, the Youth Police Division will meet twice per month. One meeting will be an educational presentation and the second will be a field trip. Intially; the Youth Police Division will be open to any boy or girl in the fifth through eighth grade class that attends a school located in Sparta, or any relative of any Sparta Police Officer.
When our eighth graders graduate from grammar school, the program will be extended to include the ninth grade and so on, until we have a Youth Police Division prominently represented in all the schools in Sparta Township, collaborating together as a powerful positive force.
Some of our youth lack direction and positive role models in which to emulate. Members of the Youth Police Division will be trained to help fill that void. For the Police Department this is an “All In” proposition. Our officers have already volunteered to serve as Company Commanders, Instructors and Mentors.
The Youth Police Division is attached directly to the police department but will be funded privately. It will have no financial impact on the town or department’s budget. Officers involved are volunteering their time when it comes to the training of these recruits throughout the year.
Fundraisers and available grants are currently being explored. The first fundraiser is scheduled for August 24th sponsored by Sparta Little League Football, the event is called
“Friday Night Lights For Life.” This is event is three youth football games played under the lights vs The Wallkill Valley Rangers. Last year’s event raised $7,000.00 for paralyzed Rutgers Football Player Eric LeGrand.
The Youth Police Division is a program that cannot be hastily thrown together. It is being carefully planned and the proper curriculum has to be developed for each grade. The program is scheduled to commence in June of 2013, with the start of the Sparta Police Youth Division Academy which will be located at the Sparta Police Athletic League Building on Station Road.
There will be two Public Meetings to be announced in February and March where parents and interested candidates can listen to a presentation that explains our goals and objectives. Applications will be accepted at that time. April and May will be utilized for personal interviews of all candidates as well as getting them properly outfitted for the academy.
This is a unique opportunity to educate and empower our youth into making the right decisions with their lives and leading the charge to change a deadly culture while becoming role models and leaders in our community.
“Rarely do schools acknowledged the power of peer culture in defining standards, and rarely do they take advantage of this power as an engine for quality. When students themselves are in charge of projects that they care about, peer pressure can become a powerful force for high standards.”
-R. Berger, Harvard Education Letter.
If you have any information pertaining to narcotics or any criminal behavior you can call the Sparta Police Detective Bureau at (973) 729-3017. Your identity will be kept strictly confidential. For emergencies please dial 9-1-1. For non emergencies and information requests please call (973) 729-6121
-Sgt. John-Paul Beebe
Sparta Township Police Department
John-Paul Beebe, Sergeant/Public Affairs Officer with the Sparta Police Department, is 52 years old, has been a resident of Sparta Township for 45 years, and has served on the department for the past 24 years. He lives in Sparta with wife Brenda, 13-year-old son Dylan, and daughters Jenna, age 10, and Gracie, age 8.
Prior to being a Police Officer, Beebe served five years in the United Sates Coast Guard, as Public Affairs Specialist Petty Officer 3rd Class.
Beebe is a graduate of the Rev George A. Brown Memorial School, Pope John XXIII Regional High School Class of 79, and attended Seton Hall University.
He is a Journalism and Photo Journalism graduate of the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Beebe is the former Assistant Football, Basketball and Track Coach at Pope John XXIII Regional High School. Currently Football Coach and Board Member of Sparta Little League Football.
The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TheAlternativePress.com or anyone who works for TheAlternativePress.com. TheAlternativePress.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.