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Burnett County Sheriff Tracy Finch

The Sentinel reached out to a number of officials present at the listening session on June 20 and gave them the opportunity to speak directly to the community on the issue of drugs and addiction in our community.

I was very impressed with the attendance of the listening session. I am glad to see there are so many members of our community that are interested in learning about and willing to fight the battle against methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine has been in our community since the 1990s. It has impacted our county in many negative ways. The addiction rate is extremely high. That addiction leads to several other crimes including thefts, burglaries and violent crimes. Burnett County has made positive strides in the past few years to address this problem. Drug Court and the Meth Diversion Program are active and having positive results. Individuals in the recovery community are becoming more active to try and assist with this problem.

As one of the people in recovery said at the session, we “can’t arrest our way out of this problem.” I do believe that drug dealers need to be incarcerated for an extended period of time. I believe that all people who commit crimes need to be held accountable. The users also need to be held accountable but should be offered opportunities to start down the path of recovery.

One of my main goals is to get the drug problem in Burnett County under control. I have taken steps toward that goal. I have appointed a detective to work mainly drug cases. Our department has been working closely with the police departments in the county along with other counties to pursue drug dealers and get the drugs off the street.

We have also been working closely with the District Attorney to come up with more creative ways to attack this problem.

My main takeaway from the listening session was hope. We heard from concerned members of the community. We also heard from several people in recovery. The legislators will be getting the information from the session. I have hope that together we can fight this battle effectively.