Operation Hammer and Hope looks to reduce drug problem in Clay County

Clay County — On Friday, Clay County’s Sheriff Michelle Cook will offer Hope, the second leg of the county’s drug enforcement reform program, Operation Hammer & Hope. The event will take place at Wilkinson Elementary School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More than 20 locally-elected officials along with non-profit and service organizations will provide dozens of “wrap-around” services to individuals - and their family members - in need of addiction recovery. A myriad of one-stop shop services will begin to help addicts and their families cross what she describes as “a bridge of hope.”

“If you’re an addict looking to get off opioids; if you have an addict in your family and you need help; if you’re a young mom and you have an infant and you need help; if you’re grandparents raising young children because of drug issues and you need help, come see us,” she said.

Operation Hope is working in tandem with Operation Hammer, a drug enforcement program that successfully arrested dozens that included 80 felonies for trafficking, sale and delivery, and intent to distribute illegal narcotics that included meth, cocaine, crack cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and LSD.

“Drugs don’t just affect one person,” she said. “They cause crime. And that crime creates additional victims. They hurt parents and siblings, our spouses and most of all our children. We know we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. But enforcement will always be one important tool in the battle against drugs in our community.

Cook confirmed that in addition to the 500 drug-related arrests made this year alone, there were 23 deaths due to overdose.

“These are family members,” she continued. “These are our community members. We cannot arrest our way out of this drug issue.”

Cook stressed the need to not only get drug dealers off the street, but to help those suffering from the cycle of addiction.

“Now is the time to act,” she said, “because you never know if the next dose will be the fatal one.”

Slated to be the first of an ongoing partnership and community outreach effort, Operation Hope offers a variety of services that include a no questions asked drug drop-off. Community Affairs will be present to address questions and concerns.

Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) will also be offered to assist those addicted to opioids.

The Clay Action Coalition will provide Deterra Drug Disposal packets for at-home use along with educational materials for safe alternatives to pain management.

The Clay County Clerk of Court and Controller’s Office will provide onsite services that include E-notify (court date notification); information concerning injunctions (domestic violence), Baker Acts (mental health); and Marchman Acts (substance abuse); plus online forms for services, payment plans and eligibility/case review.

The Clay Behavioral Health Center will provide Narcan, along with staff and informational handouts. Additional services will include faith-based programs, COVID-19 vaccines, and emergency shelter information. The services cover the gambit of topics.

Operation Hammer aims to combat drug issues through enforcement while Operation Hope will serve families of Middleburg and Clay County with resources to battle drug addiction. Cooke is prepared to work provide “law enforcement” while “advocating information.”

“Operation Hope is where we start in Clay County,” said Cooke.

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