Many people believe it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to get rid of drugs.
The MATForce Yavapai County Substance Abuse Coalition is made up of several people from communities throughout Yavapai County using the village concept to stop substance abuse. In fact, the group’s motto is “Building Healthier Communities.”
“Our efforts have shown great success. In 2007 we were dealing with about 60 new felony cases a week. Now we’re averaging about 40 a week,” Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said at MATForce’s Community Partners Appreciation Breakfast and Awards Ceremony on Friday, Oct. 2, at The Lodge at Cliff Castle Casino in
Camp Verde. The 2009 honorees were county law enforcement agencies.
Polk is the cofounder of MATForce along with Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh when he was the city’s chief of police.
According to the county’s figures, felonies peaked in fiscal year 2006-07, and methamphetamine arrests peaked the same year. Often the two run together, she said.
“As meth offenses started to drop, so did felonies. They have dropped by an unprecedented 28 percent,” Polk said. “We are no longer going to sit back and lament a problem. We are going to be the solution.”
At the heart of the success story is MATForce and its partnership with law enforcement. Polk said the group is fortunate to have so many officers involved in substance abuse eradicating efforts.
Bartosh related a story about a conversation he had with some of the special drug task force officers in Cottonwood.
“They told me they used to be able to get buys easily and stopped because they ran out of time. Now, he said, they have to work all night long and hard to get just one buy. From that, we know we are making a big impact,” Bartosh said.
The first award for Community Member of the Year went to Prescott Valley Police Department officer James Tobin. Polk said Tobin received a grant from the governor’s office to fight underage drinking. He was wondering how he was going to use the money when on his way into work, he pulled up next to a school bus and saw a MATForce sticker. He called and got involved.
“I’ve been a police officer for 14 years in this county. What I like about MATForce is it’s a coalition of people with a like mind and goal,” Tobin told the 50 people in attendance.
The Law Enforcement Appreciation Awards went to the Cottonwood, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Sedona and Yavapai College police departments, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, Yavapai County Adult and Juvenile probation and Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking.
Honorable Mention went to Chino Valley, Clarkdale, Jerome, Yavapai-Apache and Yavapai-Prescott police departments and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
For more information about MATForce, call (928) 708-0100.