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Fighting drugs on LI

Kings Park in the kNOw honors those who help

Photo courtesy of Steve Weber. Some of the KPITN honorees at the Sept. 15 event posed for a photo with their plaques. (click for larger version)
September 23, 2010 | 10:19 AM
Kings Park in the kNOw was established just a few years ago but it has already made progress in meeting its goals of alleviating the county drug epidemic. The group recently thanked the people who helped get them there.

KP in the kNOw is a nonprofit task force whose goal is to "eradicate the infiltration of illegal drugs and substance abuse for the benefit of our children, schools and community," according to their website. It is made up of parents, students and school administrators in the Kings Park School District, elected officials from the town and county, the Suffolk County Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the group.

At a joint event with the Kings Park Chamber of Commerce, KP in the kNOw honored and thanked law enforcement, elected officials, community members and members of the press for their work in preventing and stopping drugs from spreading throughout Suffolk County.

Among those honored at the Sept. 15 event were state Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport), Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, District Attorney Tom Spota, Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, SCPD Detective Lt. William Burke, SCPD Deputy Inspector Chris Bergold, SCPD Inspector James Rhoads, Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, Smithtown Department of Public Safety Chief John Valentine, DEA Special Agent Charles Bernard, SCPD Detective Suzanne Janes and SCPD Lieutenant Bob Donahue.

Suffolk County Legislator Lynne Nowick (R-St. James) was honored for her efforts in helping to end the use of opiates and heroin in the county by creating the Opiate and Heroin Advisory Panel.

The Times of Smithtown and local newspapers The Long Island Press and The Smithtown News were all honored for their coverage of the drug epidemic on Long Island.

In their recognition of those newspapers, KP in the kNOw said, "Kings Park in the kNOw is honoring members of the local media because the public cannot care about a crisis they are unaware of. The reporting on the opiate and heroin scourge has been done in a consistent, thorough and responsible manner."

In a statement, Levy said, "Heroin usage is a growing problem in Suffolk County; it is no longer restricted only to urban areas. We will do everything in our power to attack this problem on all fronts and to ensure that anyone who is caught selling drugs is arrested and prosecuted."

Commissioner Dormer added, "It is an honor to be recognized by the same people we are working with every day to keep our children safe and off of drugs. The use and sale of heroin is a serious problem in Suffolk County, and we are committed to stopping it."

The concept of KP in the kNOw came about when local businessman and founder Tony Leteri of Leteri Waste Management in Kings Park started the organization to fight the heroin scourge. The father of six and a man who loved his community worked hard to make the group into a full-fledged, nonprofit entity incorporated in 2007, said the group's president, Maureen Rossi.

In three short years the group has met with local community, civic, educational and governmental groups to discuss ways to prevent and stop drug use in the community.

One of the several methods they use to reach people is distributing a NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services survey to Kings Park students, Rossi said. The survey will be given to students this fall and will assess the drug problem — allowing the group and their allies to focus their efforts on a specific problem, whether it is underage drinking, heroin use or opiate use, Rossi said.

The group also runs a phone hotline to report suspected drug deals in the community. Callers can report anonymously to 631-273-1353 any activity they suspect involves drugs and information will be passed onto law enforcement officials. The group reminds callers to press *67 before they make the call to keep their caller ID information secret. KPITK also lists another hotline on their website for people struggling with drugs and depression. That number is 516-679-1111.

The group works closely with the King Park school board and has prevention programs they hope to bring to the schools in the future.

The next upcoming event, one in a series called "Parenting For Prevention" will be at Kings Park High School on Oct. 13 at 7 pm and will focus on prevention, addiction and law enforcement as related to drugs. The speakers will target parents of children in kindergarten through 12th grade because, as the group explains, "the dialogues have to start early and they must be continued throughout a child's life."

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