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Task Force Hopes Drug Education Symposium Will be 'Wakeup Call'

“Raising and Educating a Drug-Free Community,” a symposium hosted by the township’s Task Force, will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27 at Lacey Township High School

Task Force Hopes Drug Education Symposium Will be 'Wakeup Call' Task Force Hopes Drug Education Symposium Will be 'Wakeup Call'

Lacey Township is going red to promote a drug-free community.

“Raising and Educating a Drug-Free Community,” a symposium hosted by the township’s Task Force, will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27 at Lacey Township High School. For a week prior, the school district, township and businesses will promote the event with red ribbons throughout Lacey

“I hope it’s going to be a wakeup call for parents and that they’re able to see the connection between simple experimenting with alcohol and drugs and how that can end,” Municipal Alliance Coordinator Heather Scanlon said.

As of Jan. 10, Lacey had approximately 40 drug overdoses in 2012. There were six deaths associated with drug overdoses and two alcohol overdoses.

“They went through our school system, lived in our neighborhoods. Nobody thought that would happen,” Scanlon said.

The event is free of charge and will feature three guest speakers: Special Agent Douglas S. Collier, M.A., Steven L. Willis, J.D. and Capt. David A. Paprota, Ed.D.

A complimentary dinner will be provided for attendees at 6:15 p.m. Free childcare will be available. There will be door prizes.

All Lacey students who have a parent or family member in attendance will earn extra credit.

“Studies prove parents have the biggest influence,” Scanlon said. “We all know kids are going to experiment. But parents are the single biggest preventative tool.”

This forum is the second in a series that is being organized by the Lacey Township Task Force to bring light to the drug problem. The first, “Children and Youth Prescription Drug Use: The Unscripted Reality” was held in September to educate physicians with the most up-to-date information about drug abuse.

A Facebook event has been created for the symposium. As of Monday, 70 people RSVPed that they would be attending. The Municipal Alliance anticipates many more. RSVP by calling 609-693-1100, ext. 2203.

Below is a description of each presenter.

Special Agent Douglas S. Collier, M.A., was featured on MSNBC, Heroin Inc. and Discovery Channel, Heroin Nation. Collier was the DEA’s NJ Division Producer for the SPIKE TV show titled “DEA.” He was also the executive producer on the “Heroin: The Ride that Never Ends” DVD and curriculum, which is used by prevention and treatment professionals throughout the state of NJ. As a special agent, Collier conducted investigations targeting heroin and cocaine networks, and organizations involved in trafficking steroids and other drugs.

Steve L. Willis, J.D. is the founder and managing partner of Willis & Gresek, PC, a general practice law firm. While he specializes in all areas of criminal law, Mr. Willis focuses much of his personal practice on substance abuse and addiction related crimes. His specialty is borne out of his own experience with a challenging adolescent child who suffers from the disease of addiction. Willis has presented many lectures before the medical community, school staff, and juvenile justice personnel on the inadequacies of the criminal justice system as it pertains to substance abuse. Willis is a member of the NJ Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He graduated summa cum laude from Montclair University and received his J.D. degree as valedictorian from Seton Hall University.

Capt. David Paprota, Ed.D., has more than 23 years of law enforcement experience and currently serves as the Commander of the Lacey Township Police Department. Paprota is dedicated to raising substance abuse awareness as well as developing and implementing programs to decrease the devastating negative impact of drug abuse in Lacey Township. Paprota earned his doctoral degree at Seton Hall University while also serving as an adjunct professor. He is a published author and has personally participated in training more than 10,000 NJ, NY and PA law enforcement officers throughout his career.

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