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How Plano Kicked Its Heroin Habit, How Dallas’ Thomas Jefferson High School Is Kicking Its Own

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal ran this illustration, which I doubt the Plano Chamber of Commerce will want to borrow for its promotional materials.
The Santa Clarita Valley Signal ran this illustration, which I doubt the Plano Chamber of Commerce will want to borrow for its promotional materials.

Santa Clarita, California, has in recent years been having trouble with heroin use among its young people. So the community’s newspaper, the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, turned to leaders in Plano to seek advice on how they beat their own well-documented teen heroin epidemic in the 1990s.

Plano Police Chief Gregory A. Rushin says it’s a never-ending fight:

“We haven’t scaled back at all,” Rushin said, adding every officer brought in and assigned to fight heroin remains committed to that fight 15 years later.

“We added numbers to that (heroin) unit, and we have not reduced any of those numbers,” he said.

“In this battle, we’ve seen no end in sight.”

Plano’s efforts were known as the awesomely named “Operation Rockfest,” because (one assumes) when you’re trying to connect with the kids to get them to stop doing illegal drugs you’ve got to talk to them on their level and some cops had heard that the rock music was popular with the kids.

N.B: The current issue of D Magazine also has an article worth reading about the ways in which Dallas ISD’s Thomas Jefferson High School has been combatting the widespread use of “cheese” heroin. Along with employing stricter enforcement of the law, they recruited a “street team” of students who helped administrators understand the scope of the problem. Unfortunately they may have blown the whole enterprise by not dubbing the group “The Rock Squad.”