Rangely PD takes aim at drug problem

RANGELY | With several tragic drug overdose deaths marring Rangely in 2017, the Rangely Police Department wants the public to be aware of the growing drug problem within the community.
According to Police Lieutenant Roy Kinney drug possession and use in Rangely have been growing rapidly. Kinney, who has been involved in law enforcement in Rio Blanco County for more than 25 years, describes the problem as the worst he’s ever seen.
“It’s out of control down here,” he said.
Kinney and the local PD currently have a “steady basis” of interactions involving drugs. According to records provided by the Police Department, Rangely experienced three deaths which were drug-related in 2017. However, Kinney emphasized that he believes that number should be higher and that several cases are missing due to complications within the reporting system. The report indicates 37 total cases involving controlled substances in 2017. The primary drugs cited were marijuana and amphetamines such as meth and opium/heroin. According to Kinney the majority of marijuana cases involved underage users. The department also issued 17 DUI-drug citations.
Kinney believes that the economic downturn that hit Rangely in the last few years is, in part, to blame for the uptick in drug use. “The working force population declined,” he said, “and left behind the drug-using population.”
Kinney says heroin, meth, marijuana and fentanyl are the primary drugs within the community. Fentanyl is a synthetic form of heroin and according to Kinney, most responsible for drug-associated deaths.
One of the ways the police department is trying to tackle the problem is by taking a proactive approach to traffic stops, where the officers are focused on impaired driving including drugs and alcohol. “It’s a means to an end,” said Kinney. In addition, the department is bringing in the Let’s All Work to Fight Drug Abuse, or L.A.W., program, to help teach local youth that drugs are dangerous.
The program, which consists of a 36-page booklet that reviews drug identification and their effects, is geared towards elementary-aged children. The books are distributed to the police department by L.A.W. Publications and funded through sponsorships from local individuals and businesses. Nathan Stringer with L.A.W. coordinated the sponsorship effort and said, “Our goal is always to get business support from the community to purchase the books for the department. The business community was very generous and we reached the goal very quickly. It is obvious the residents of Rangely support their law enforcement.”
L.A.W.’s website states, “As parents, we teach our kids how to stay safe crossing the street. As a community, we must continue this education by warning our children about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.”
The program will be administered by officers who will give school presentations during Red Ribbon Week next fall.
In the meantime, the Rangely Police will continue trying to bring the drugs in off the streets and hope that as awareness grows drug-related deaths will begin to dissipate.