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AG meets with Boys with a Dream; holds roundtable with area officials

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By Ken Bradford

    Attorney General Mark Herring took time to talk with Boys With a Dream when he stopped by Bedford for a round table on opioid abuse,

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    Boys With a Dream recently made a video public service (PSA) announcement on drug avoidance. It’s being edited into a 30 second and a one minute version.  Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown said he hopes the attorney general’s office will distribute it.
    “It’s amazing,” commented Derrick Spinner, of Herring’s interest in the announcement.
    Spinner said he hopes it will get people thinking.
    “You don’t need drugs to be cool,” Spinner said of the PSA’s message.
    The young men were  on  a  bus riding back to Bedford when the idea came up. They talked about it and brought the idea up to Sheriff Brown, who liked the idea.
    Robert Carson, one of the group’s adult mentors, wrote the script. Carson has written 12 plays, so he has a lot of experience with scripts. The young men served as the actors.
    “Hey guys,” Carson said to the group just after they spoke with Herring. “I want to tell you how proud I am of you.”
    They aren’t professional actors, so, in a way it was hard. They have been interviewed a lot, so they are used to being in front of a news camera, but Spinner noted this was different. It was intimidating.
    At the round table, Herring heard from representatives from area law enforcement and social services.
    According to social services representatives, they are seeing an increase in teens addicted to opioids. They, in turn, are getting the drugs from addicted parents. They are also seeing children with opioid addictions.
    “A large number of addicts have an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness,” Andy Crawford, Bedford County’s director of social services, said.
    A sheriff’s office representative said they are seeing property crimes skyrocket due to addicts trying to get money to buy drugs. Opioid overdoses have also more than doubled. Jack Jones, the chief of fire and rescue, said they have had 108 opioid overdoses so far this calendar year. That’s up from 40 for the entire year last year.
    A regional jail representative said they are seeing an increase in the number of people coming in with substance abuse symptoms. The number of pregnant female addicts has more than doubled.
    Opioids are also a threat to first responders and police investigators doing searches.
    “It’s a huge problem,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance. “It’s replaced cocaine. It’s fueling property crimes.”