The first week of April was a momentous occasion for Operation UNITE, President/CEO Nancy Hale told members of the UNITE Board of Directors at their monthly board meeting.
On Wednesday, April 5, Hale testified before a Congressional subcommittee about the opioid epidemic. Then, on Friday, April 7, Operation UNITE celebrated 14 years of leading efforts in investigations, treatment and education.
“The longer I am involved in fighting this epidemic, the more I am convinced that education – particularly K-12 prevention education – is the key to saving our next generation,” Hale told the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. “It is only through collaboration and a holistic approach that we will succeed.”
More than 100,000 youth have participated in UNITE’s programs, tens of thousands of community members have volunteered and more than 4,000 people have entered treatment using a UNITE voucher in the 14 years UNITE has been in operation.
In addition, UNITE detectives have removed more than $12.3 million worth of drugs from the streets, arrested more than 4,400 bad actors, achieved a conviction rate of more than 97 percent and processed nearly 22,000 calls to our drug tip line.
UNITE was incorporated on April 7, 2003. The vision for UNITE came from Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-5th) in response response to a special report, “Prescription for Pain,” published by the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper, that painted Eastern Kentucky as the painkiller capital of the world.
Operation UNITE also released its monthly update today on efforts to combat substance abuse in its 32-county service area. Highlights from March include:
55 tip line calls were received with 21,928 calls received since inception. People can report suspected drug activity toll-free by calling 1-866-424-4382.
- There were 503 active participants in drug courts within the UNITE service area. Of those, 332 were employed and 106 were pursuing education.
- The courts collected $16,566 in fines, restitution and court costs, along with $7,375 in child support in March. Since inception those totals are $1.427 million and $945,674, respectively.
- There were 8,607 hours of community service completed in March.
- 10 people entered treatment in March using a UNITE Treatment Voucher.
- Since inception, 4,190 have entered treatment.
UNITE and its coalitions held a total of 157 activities in March, including:
- The Laurel County Coalition is working with area first responders to collaborate on a drug awareness effort this fall.
- The McCreary County Coalition distributed 34 drug testing kits.
- In Clay County, approximately 125 people attended a graduation at Chad’s Hope, which featured Congressman Hal Rogers as the guest speaker.
- Approximately 200 people attended the Angel Initiative Forum in Pike County.
- Breathitt County held several youth programs, including a self-esteem class for at-risk female teen-agers and a program about how to make good choices when faced with real-life situations involving drugs and alcohol.
- Several coalitions held meetings or activities with local KY-ASAP (Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy) groups.