Citizens "Root" for sheriff in war on drugs

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

In 2010, Laurel County ranked among the top ten counties in the nation for the number of meth labs discovered. Leading Sheriff John Root to declare a "war on drugs." His soldiers: the sheriff's office staff and the entire community.

"There's [such] a problem with drugs around here. There's even more than I think a lot of people realize," said Judy Barnett, of Laurel County.

"I really had no clue that it was a bad as it was until our eyes were opened," admitted Dwight Larkey.

The problem had become so large, the county had a reputation as having the most meth labs per capita than any other in the state. Sheriff Root says he immediately went to work erasing that association.

"When I first got here [into office] about every complaint was drug related," stated Sheriff John Root, "but now they're just very few and far between."

In 2011, the sheriff says his staff disassembled roughly 400 meth labs. A large number, he admits, but clarifies that the calls for drug activity became fewer as the year went on.

"I know we probably have meth labs in the county, but it's not like it was before," described Sheriff Root, who credits the community being proactive and his staff being dedicated to the cause.

"I credit a lot of this to the community," said the Sheriff, adding that many people were proactive and called in information about drug activities in their area.

The sheriff described to a crowd gathered for it's regular town hall meeting, Monday evening, that his staff found roughly 50 meth labs in the month of January, in 2011. During the same stretch, in 2012, his staff had only handled three meth labs in the county.

Even with the progress made in Sheriff Root's first year, he and the community know there's still more work to be done.

"We're going to continue doing the same thing this year as we did last year," explained Sheriff Root of his plans for 2012.

"It may have dropped but I still think we have a long, long way to go," rationalized Barnett.

Another point the sheriff raised, is a drop in other violent crimes that he attributes to the reduction of drugs in the county. Sheriff Root says there were only two investigated murders in 2011; one in London and handled by the London police and the other happened in the county.

This community says they are excited that the clean out process has been effective, and they say say they will continue to "Root" on their sheriff in this war on drugs.

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