- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2001

DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson will announce the creation today of a new program that, for the first time, will integrate the agency's drug enforcement efforts with a coordinated plan for field agents to help reduce demand.
The program, called Integrated Drug Enforcement Assistance (IDEA), forms "partnerships" between DEA drug agents who will continue to arrest drug traffickers with existing community organizations to suppress demand by users through prevention and treatment programs.
"The Drug Enforcement Administration's mission to eliminate the supply of drugs in America through law enforcement is the backbone of our anti-drug effort," Mr. Hutchinson said in a statement. "The DEA also recognizes and values the importance of prevention and treatment in dealing with a community's drug program."
Under the new program, to be outlined today at a press conference at DEA headquarters in Arlington, the agency will continue to work with local law enforcement authorities to identify, arrest and prosecute drug dealers; for cities and towns, it will also provide agents trained in community building to work with local groups to fight drug abuse.
"When a community has a drug-trafficking organization in the neighborhood, DEA agents will work with local law enforcement to put the dealers in jail. But that shouldn't be the end of it," Mr. Hutchinson said.
"Under the new initiative, the DEA will combine the law enforcement effort with a partnership alongside any existing community coalitions to have a long-lasting impact to reduce demand through drug prevention and treatment programs," he said.
The program will target communities willing and able to commit to long-term solutions in order to address not only their immediate drug-trafficking problems but also the underlying conditions that allow drug trafficking and drug use to flourish, Mr. Hutchinson said.
"With DEA's leadership, other federal agencies and sources of expertise and funding will be called to the table in an effort to broaden the resources available to the community," he said.
The DEA said that while each community is unique, the IDEA program recognizes several existing common elements:
Drug-trafficking targets will be identified by the DEA and the agency will work with state and local law enforcement to develop and execute an enforcement operation against them.
The DEA and community groups will work together to identify local drug-abuse problems, barriers to dealing with the problems and solutions to those problems.
Mr. Hutchinson said that after the employment of agents to address drug-trafficking concerns, the DEA will assist in providing a "long-term package" to address the community's drug prevention and community mobilization needs.
He said the package will include an on-site DEA agent working with experts in crime prevention, alternative judicial systems such as drug courts restorative justice initiatives, drug testing and law enforcement training.
Mr. Hutchinson, a former three-term congressman named to the DEA post this year by President Bush, has steadfastly maintained that while law enforcement is key to his still-developing DEA strategy, he "fully supports" the president's goal of a balanced approach of aggressive law enforcement, increased treatment and expanded educational programs.
He has called the president's plan a "seamless, integrated approach to our drug enforcement efforts."
"The DEA is designed to enforce the law, and that's our mission and that's what we're going to do," he recently told The Washington Times. "But it also is important to focus on new approaches that include an emphasis on educating our youth for the best life choices and the rehabilitation of those who have become addicted."

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