SNEADS FERRY N.C. (WNCT) – Around 100 people gathered Thursday night in Sneads Ferry to brainstorm ideas of how they could fight a growing drug problem together.
Law enforcement agencies were on hand and said they can’t fight the problem alone.
Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said people need to start thinking of the addicts and sellers as two groups of people. He said addicts have a disease and need treatment, while sellers should have only three strikes before doing at least 20 years in prison.
“People in Sneads Ferry are hot,” Miller said. “They want it to go away. They want to maintain the good quality of life.”
Along with harsher penalties for those supplying drugs, Miller also wants to set up a substation in Sneads Ferry so deputies are close by when needed.
Onslow County District Attorney Ernie Lee said demonizing the drug addict won’t do anything. He did admit there are some major corrections that need to take place in the justice system to turn the drug crisis around.
“I am now prosecuting the grandchildren of some of the people I started prosecuting in 1987 for drugs, which means now it has gone three generations that I know about,” Lee said.
Earlier in April, Cindy Patane lost her son, Matthew Eyster, after he overdosed on heroin in his bedroom. Since his passing, Patane has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money and help other addicts and their families.
“I struggled helping my own child and I know there are other parents out there who are struggling to help their kids,” she said.
Since starting the account, Patane said she has received more than $9,000. On Thursday, she returned to Launch Pad, the sober living house her son had been at, to pay tuition for five people.
Miller said the community can help law enforcement by taking notes about strange activity they may see in their neighborhood. It may not seem like a big help, but he said it could be the difference between life and death as they crack down on drugs.