Meth task force submits recommendations to Gibbons | NevadaAppeal.com

Meth task force submits recommendations to Gibbons

The Governor’s Working Group on Methamphetamine Use has submitted recommendations in categories ranging from treatment to law enforcement.

The 55-page report was turned over to Gov. Jim Gibbons this week.

One of Gibbons’ first acts as governor was to form the group, which includes educators, treatment providers and citizens as well as law enforcement. Among them are his wife, Dawn, who has been active in the battle against meth since before her husband’s election.

She said Nevadans “must unite to ensure that this devastating drug is not in our homes, schools or communities.”

Also among the 16 members of the panel are Reno Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira and Carson Sheriff Kenny Furlong – who were leaders in the effort which created Carson City’s meth task force more than a year ago.

Many of the recommendations in the report call for increased funding to protect drug-endangered children, for such things as increased early intervention services, standards for K-12 prevention education and greatly expanded treatment programs. It also calls for the replacement of federal funding lost in the past five years from the Nevada Juvenile Justice Programs Office.

But there was little discussion during the numerous working group meetings about how much funding will be needed to implement the recommendations or where it will come from.

Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden said after a meeting earlier this month he will develop those figures once the governor advises him which of the recommendations he wants included in the 2009-2011 budget.

Phil Galeoto, director of public safety, said that is true of the recommendations involving his department as well.

Many of the other recommendations call for more communication and cooperation between different agencies dealing with meth addicts and dealers. They encourage collaboration with community organizations as well as governmental providers and law enforcement agencies. And they emphasize the participation of Nevada’s tribal communities as well.

Several members of law enforcement on the working group said they now have a better understanding of the crisis from the point of view of educators and treatment providers. Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said education and treatment are essential.

Willden said he was originally concerned the group would focus too much on law enforcement and prosecution.

“But almost to a ‘T,’ everybody recognizes that prevention is one of the key things that’s got to happen,” he said.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who chaired the working group, said the goal of the report is to present the governor and Legislature with recommendations they can act on to make a difference in the battle against meth.

And she said one of the recommendations is that the governor keep the group working by extending its charter through 2008 and its agenda beyond meth to all abused drugs.

Masto said at an earlier meeting one of the things the working group has learned is that meth isn’t the only drug that needs this kind of attention.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.