School witnesses mock eradication

Officers descending on ropes from helicopters yesterday morning created quite the spectacle for Kula Intermediate and High School students, who witnessed a simulated drug bust first hand.

Demonstrating how thrilling it is to be on the right side of the law, vice and traffic unit officers repelled from the sky and landed in the school playground.

“It was so exciting and cool,” said student Jasmine Morris. “Especially when you could see the people hanging from the helicopter.”

David Mireles, the school’s principal, said he helped coordinate the demonstration during spring break.

The Kaua‘i Police Department has done several drug eradication demonstrations at schools throughout the island over the years, including Kapa‘a Middle School, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, Kalaheo Elementary School and Koloa Elementary School.

“It gives the kids an opportunity to see what the police do,” said Assistant Chief Roy Asher, adding that educating children earlier rather than later is a key method to preventing drug use.

“This helps drive the point home about saying ‘No’ to drugs,” Asher said. “And whether it’s helicopters or gear that attracts their attention, at least we have their attention and can convey that message.”

The program shows the students “green harvesting,” in which helicopters sweep in and officers seize marijuana.

The KPD’s real-life daily efforts to confiscate marjiuana has put a dent in the amount that remains on the island, Asher said.

“We confiscated a little less than 100 plants (Tuesday), an indication that our eradication efforts are working.”

On Monday, officers confiscated 50 plants, he said.

Michael Contrades, acting lieutenant of vice for the narcotics enforcement unit, heads the drug bust demonstration for the island’s schools.

“That’s where it all begins,” he has said. “If we can educate young people, perhaps we can prevent drug use in the future.”

In appreciation for the demonstration and for the work they do to keep the community safe, Mireles said, “I really thank you for what you do.”

In 2005, KPD seized 3,009 marijuana plants.

The most recent figures available for 2006 indicate at least 7,565 marijuana plants were confiscated.

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