Community Crime Surveys Due Aug. 31

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How big is the drug problem in Payson? How easy is it for young people to get alcohol?

These are some of the questions on a community opinion survey being distributed by Payson's Community Prevention Council.

The council dispersed the surveys in various locations around town, including the Payson Public Library, Safeway and Blockbuster. Surveys are available until Aug. 31, when members will collect them and begin analyzing results to see what the community thinks the biggest issues are. The CPC conducted a similar assessment in 2001, said chairperson Debra Shewey.

From the 2001 survey, areas with the biggest concern included substance abuse, child and adult abuse, juvenile delinquency and teen pregnancy, Shewey said.

"We are primarily working on substance abuse and underage drinking," she said.

Payson Police Chief and CPC member Don Engler said the group provides educational material to the public about underage drinking and prescription drug use, and gets grants for the community.

In April, the group completed an underage drinking awareness fair. "Dump the Drugs" is the next program the group is working on.

The council hopes to set prescription drug boxes up at pharmacies around town for people to throw their old drugs into.

Tossing pills down the drain can lead to contamination, Shewey said. Putting pills in the trash is a bad idea because people fish them out.

"We want people to bring their old pills to an area where they can disperse of drugs, she said. "Many people don't know what to do, so they just leave them in their cabinet."

The CPC has been ongoing in the community for many years, Shewey said.

Engler said the group helped establish the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program in Payson schools.

Recently, with Shewey taking over the helm in Oct. 2007, the council became more active and recruited additional members.

The council boasts more than 38 members from various community groups, including Rim Guidance Center, Payson Police Department, Southwest Behavioral Health, Gila County Meth Coalition, Child Protective Services and various businesses.

Any new members are welcome to attend meetings, and volunteers are always needed, Shewey said.

The Community Prevention Council will meet at 11:30 a.m., Sept. 22, in the Payson Library conference room.

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