Port Jefferson officials and residents hope a public forum next week on drug abuse in the North Shore village will help keep a relatively mild problem from becoming a crisis.
A group of residents, working with village and Port Jefferson School District officials, arranged for Suffolk County police to deliver an anti-drug program called “The Ugly Truth” at 7 p.m. Monday at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, 350 Old Post Rd. The forum will follow a 6 p.m. village board meeting at the school.
Residents and officials said they believe drug issues in the affluent village are about the same as in neighboring communities, but they don’t want the problem to become any worse.
“We don’t have a huge drug problem, but we want to keep it that way,” said Karen Sullivan, the mother of a teenage son and one of the event’s organizers. “You have to be proactive. ... It’s part of raising children in Suffolk County right now.”
Among the speakers expected to appear at the forum is Deputy County Executive Timothy Sini, recently nominated to become the county’s next police commissioner. Chief County Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Caplan and Dr. Scott Coyne, the police department’s chief surgeon and medical director, also are expected to speak. The forum is expected to include training for treating drug overdose victims, and participants may bring expired or unwanted prescription medications to be properly disposed of.
Mayor Margot J. Garant said the village’s drug issues are no better or worse than other Long Island communities. “We just need to make sure and ensure the community that we’re listening to their concerns,” she said.
Sixth Precinct commanding officer Insp. William Murphy said police arrested five drug dealers in the past year in the village and continue to monitor “known drug locations” in Port Jefferson that he declined to identify. He said he plans to attend the forum.
“I don’t think the drug situation in Port Jeff is any worse than anywhere else,” Murphy said. “The few street dealers we had last year, we put away. ... They’re now off the streets.”
Jason Spiller, a retired New York City police detective who helped organize the forum, said he has noticed drug paraphernalia such as crack pipes and needles in playgrounds and parking areas in Port Jefferson.
“We’re a small village,” Spiller said. “We’re kind of isolated from the rest of Long Island ... we’re not immune from the rest of Long Island.”
Port Jefferson Schools Superintendent Kenneth Bossert said the community is “very fortunate not to have an overabundance of drug-related problems in our school system.” He said the forum should help parents recognize signs that their children may be involved in drugs.
“Everybody feels insulated,” Bossert said. “Everybody feels, ‘It’s not my kid,’ until it is.”