Prosecutor says OOT leading drug fight
Operation Our Town continues to play a key role in the fight against drugs and crime in the community, a prosecutor told area business leaders Thursday.
Formed in March 2007, Operation Our Town is a community and business partnership designed to promote healthy neighborhoods and protect citizens from illegal drug use and resulting crime.
Peter Weeks, Blair County first assistant district attorney and former lead drug prosecutor in the county, said law enforcement continues to see problems with heroin and other drugs.
“In 2018, we saw a drop in heroin, but instead saw an increase in methamphetamines and lab grade crystal methamphetamines,” Weeks told the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Club at The Casino at Lakemont Park. “Heroin addicts are not violent, but methamphetamine makes people violent and hard to deal with. It makes people aggressive and paranoid; it creates new challenges for police and first responders.”
The number of drug overdose deaths in the county has dropped, but continues to be an issue.
“We continue to see heroin and fentanyl overdose deaths on a regular basis; that has continued into 2019,” Weeks said.
Operation Our Town continues to support efforts to fight the drug epidemic.
“The district attorney’s office partners with law enforcement and the attorney general’s office to do controlled buys and investigations. Attorney General Josh Shapiro has been supportive. Shapiro does not tolerate drug trafficking,” Weeks said. “We partner with the attorney general’s office to monitor opioid prescription abuses. We set up prescription boxes around the area. In 2018, over 1,500 pounds of unused prescription drugs were collected. We follow the drug overdose protocol, which led to the arrest of many individuals for drug dealing resulting in death.”
Operation Our Town needs the support of the community.
“We need you to stand with us. There has been opposition to law enforcement across the country. People in Blair County have criticized Operation Our Town. Operation Our Town has made funding available for equipment that could not have been purchased or operations that could not have been conducted without that funding,” Weeks said. “I have very little tolerance for crime and drug trafficking. As a drug prosecutor, I see the toll on our community that drug activity takes.”
Operation Our Town President Michael A. Fiore is pleased with the growth of the organization.
“It’s been 12 years since we formed Operation Our Town. We have done some remarkable things. We have had great success. We continue to move forward and get more people involved. Without it, you would be living in a different community for sure,” Fiore said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.