With the continued permeation of drugs into popular culture, parents, teachers and law enforcement officers are constantly challenged to recognize the signs and dangers even when they are in plain view.
“You can’t stop what you don’t know,” Jermaine “The Tall Cop” Galloway informed the 70 or so law enforcement personnel, school teachers, administrators parents, and grandparents that attended two presentations held at Jasper Middle School Thursday.
Galloway’s hour and half presentation, “The Tall Cop Says Stop; High in Plain Sight,” provided those attending with current trends regarding drug use as well as some key insights into detecting drug culture in a household.
With 17 years of law enforcement experience, much of it dealing with drugs and alcohol abuse, Galloway has been providing the insights he developed on the frontline of drug interdiction to interested groups for several years. It has become his passion to help parents, teachers and other law enforcement officials to learn the signs of drug culture in their children.
About a year ago, with his growing popularity and a growing family, Galloway had to decide between continuing with the speaking engagements or his law enforcement career. Galloway chose to continue educating people and retired from the department.
“I just feel this is my calling,” he said.
It was apparent as he walked those attending through a presentation that not only identified current trends in drug use but also taught them to be curious enough to investigate things on their own. “See and recognizing things are two totally different things,” he pointed out.
Galloway’s slide show incorporated images from popular drug culture that could easily be misidentified as simple branding. Popular styles of head gear, t-shirts, socks and even computer mousepads being sold next to pipes and more obvious drug-inspired paraphernalia indicates the drug culture is seeping into fashion and accessories. Though, without the obvious symbolism of a marijuana leaf or other drug symbols, parents, teachers and youth workers will likely miss the drug context of the fashion items.
“When you see something like this and you don’t recognize it, that is perfectly fine,” he told the crowd. “You just have to recognize it enough to go search (Google) it.”
The sooner the better.
“Say you saw something like this written on the mirror in your kid’s room. You’re going to be like, it’s just a word. It’s not a big deal,” Galloway said. “But here’s how drug culture works. No big deal; no big deal: no big deal: oh man, how did we get here.”
Everything starts as a minor issue and is a step in the ladder to drug use, he said.
“No person has ever said, ‘my son, he’s about to become a meth addict. He’s not there yet but we’re close; he’s about to become one.'” he said. “No one has ever had that conversation. It’s ‘I didn’t know my son was using and my son is a meth addict.'”
Those realities belay the importance of just being aware of what children are into regarding fashion and recreational choices. The harsh reality being that despite parents’ wishes to allow their children choices regarding fashion, the drug world doesn’t see it as innocent.
“You might say my little Jimmy just wants to represent, he doesn’t use,” Galloway said. “But the drug world says if he’s wearing it, he must get high. Then what happens when he walks through a football game or local fair wearing it? Who’s going to be interested in that? People that have a really strong interest in that culture and some of them are going to be drug users.”
In preparation for any presentation in a given area, Galloway says he spends time in the area doing reconnaissance to determine the local drug trends. He visits different types of stores and shops, mainly smaller, locally owned places, to determine what types of ancillary and legal items are being sold locally that match up with certain drug choices.
And he advocates that parents, teachers and other groups involved with youth do the same thing to better recognize the references. Along with this, he says to look past the obvious and to share information with other community members through e-mail and Facebook groups.
Things to look for include unusual names that are modified to incorporate popular logos and easily recognizable designs. He gave an example of the word Kush — a popular strain of marijuana — that was modified to appear similar to the band Kiss’s logo. Simple phrases like “On One” found as decals on cars should be researched. Numbers like 710, which signifies OIL written upside down and refers to highly concentrated marijuana resin used in dabbing, are not as innocuous as they appear.
In the end, the first line of defense comes down to communication and education. Galloway referred to designer drug overdoses resulting in deaths and how when his 16-year-old son came to him about a project idea, he simply said he could do it on designer drugs. “A little while later, my son came to me and told me about how one city had like 20 deaths from designer drug use,” he explained.
Kids are going to find out about it no matter where they live. There is no rural on the internet. So, instead of removing kids from school, taking away their internet access and phones, Galloway says to simply develop the relationship with your children that allows the information to be discussed openly.
Galloway’s presentation was sponsored by local law enforcement and school officials who saw a need for this type of training.
Jasper Police Detective Jeremy Lee, Jasper Resource Officer Jason Knies, Jasper Middle School Assistant Principal Phil Tolbert and Jasper High School Assistant Principal Glen Buechlein attended Galloway’s presentation last year at Central High School. Afterward, Lee was able to procure grants from the Southwest Indiana Law Enforcement Training Council and the Dubois County Substance Abuse Council to pay to bring Galloway back to provide two presentations Thursday.
Parents seeking help or guidance are asked to reach out to local law enforcement for assistance. Galloway has also made himself available to anyone with questions. His site is tallcopsaysstop.com and he spreads information about drug use trends on his Facebook page and Twitter.