- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

The Drug Enforcement Administration plans to double the number of agents assigned to work with local law enforcement officials and community leaders to help in drug prevention and treatment programs, DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson said yesterday.
"Agents are tired of dismantling an organization and a year later come back and see that they've moved in again or another organization has," Mr. Hutchinson said in announcing a new program to integrate the agency's drug enforcement efforts with a coordinated plan for field agents to help reduce demand.
"The answer to America's drug problem must come from the community. This is good, grass-roots democracy at its old fashioned best," he said. "DEA is proud to partner with neighborhoods across the nation to make a safer America."
The program, called Integrated Drug Enforcement Assistance (IDEA), will create what Mr. Hutchinson described as "partnerships" between DEA drug agents and existing community organizations to suppress demand by users through prevention and treatment programs.
The plan calls for an increase in the number of "drug reduction agents" assigned around the country from 22 to more than 40, who will establish long-term anti-drug programs with police agencies, schools, churches and other organizations. The DEA will spend nearly $5 million over the next two years to add agents in the field.
Mr. Hutchinson, at a press conference at DEA headquarters, 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.
"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.
He cautioned that the plan would not diminish efforts by the DEA to identify, arrest and prosecute drug traffickers, only add to the agency's effort to control the drug problem.
"There should not be any competition between the enforcement side and the demand reduction side," he said.
Mr. Hutchinson said 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.
He said 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.
He said the plan 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.

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