About Operation UNITE

“UNITE” is an acronym meaning Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education. It reflects the three-pronged, comprehensive approach deemed necessary to combating substance abuse in Kentucky.

Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education, Inc. (Operation UNITE) is a 501(c)(3) non-stock, non-profit corporation organized and operated exclusively for educational, civic, patriotic and enhancement of society purposes under the Internal Revenue Code.

Operation UNITE was launched in April 2003 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers in response to a special report, “Prescription for Pain,” published by the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper during January and February 2003. This series of articles exposed the addiction and corruption associated with drug abuse in southern and eastern Kentucky, which largely included Rogers’ Fifth Congressional District. Click to download Part 1 Pdf icon and Part 2 Pdf icon.

Mission Statement

Operation UNITE works to rid communities of illegal drug use through undercover narcotics investigations, coordinating treatment for substance abusers, providing support to families and friends of substance abusers, and educating the public about the dangers of using drugs. UNITE’s goal is to educate and activate individuals by developing and empowering community coalitions to no longer accept or tolerate the drug culture.

Service Area

UNITE coalitions 9-28-14Operation UNITE serves 32 counties in southern and eastern Kentucky, including all counties comprising the Fifth Congressional District: Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Wayne, Whitley and Wolfe.

Board of Directors

UNITE is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors that meets at 10:00 a.m. on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (except April and July) at 350 CAP Drive in London. Board members are:

  • Mr. Tom Handy, Chairman – retired Commonwealth Attorney
  • Hon. Jackie L. Steele Jr., Vice Chairman – Commonwealth Attorney, 27th Judicial Circuit
  • Mrs. Karen Kelly, Secretary – District Administrator, Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers
  • Ms. Mary Colvin, Treasurer – Chief Operating Officer, Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance
  • Mrs. Cheryl Hickman, Vice President – Assistant to the President/CEO, Pikeville Medical Center
  • Mr. Bob Mitchell – retired District Administrator, Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers
  • Mr. Lonnie Anderson – retired Superintendent, Whitley County Public Schools
  • Lt. Col. Jack Miniard – Director of Operations, Kentucky State Police Special Enforcement
  • Ms. Connie Payne – Executive Officer, Statewide Services, Administrative Office of the Courts
  • Mrs. Stacey Sheppard – Community Volunteer
  • Mr. Darrell Wages – Parts Manager, Whayne Supply Company



Primary funding for Operation UNITE’s counter-drug initiative has come through federal grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (DOJ-BJA) and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has been earmarked for the counter-drug initiative. Funding has also been received from federal Justice Assistance Grants (JAG), Kentucky General Assembly (coal severance funds), Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) through contracts with Eastern Kentucky University’s Justice and Safety Center, and The Center For Rural Development. Additional funding is provided through individual and corporate donations to the UNITE Foundation.

Why You Should Be Involved

Participation in Operation UNITE will:

  • Raise your awareness about drugs and the drug problem.
  • Maximize your talents and abilities to affect change.
  • Empower you to take a stand; there is power in numbers.
  • Assist you or your family members to receive treatment, counseling and after-care services if you are experiencing problems related to substance abuse.
  • Provide resources and support for you to begin or expand anti-drug programs for youth, either through schools or community groups.
  • Make your neighborhood safer by getting drug dealers off the streets.
  • Keep you informed about legislative actions related to drugs and drug enforcement.


National Rx Drug Abuse Summit

The National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, created by UNITE in 2012, is the largest national collaboration of professionals from local, state and federal agencies, business, academia, clinicians, treatment providers, counselors, educators, state and national leaders, and advocates impacted by Rx drug abuse. To learn more, click here.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2010-DD-BX-0221 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime. Points of view or options in this document are those of the author and do not represent the official position or policies of the United State Department of Justice.