DEA announces “360 Strategy” in Knoxville to address heroin, prescription drugs and violent crime
Program serves as a model for communities struggling to break the cycle of drug trafficking, abuse and violence
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration today announced that Knoxville will be the 13th pilot city to be part of a comprehensive law enforcement and prevention “360 Strategy,” designed to help cities dealing with the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic, and the violent crime that accompanies it. DEA Louisville Special Agent In Charge D. Christopher Evans made the announcement, along with members from other local and federal agencies and organizations in law enforcement, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and community outreach.
“As America’s opioid epidemic rages on in communities like Knoxville, DEA continues to find new and innovative ways to address this growing addiction to heroin and prescription drugs and the violent trafficking it breeds,” Evans said. “DEA is working closely with many agencies and organizations that deal separately with these problems and merging them into a unified, comprehensive and sustained initiative to target drug traffickers and restore local communities to a safe and healthy state.”
The DEA 360 Strategy utilizes a three-fold approach to fighting drug traffickers:
- Provide DEA leadership with coordinated DEA enforcement actions targeting all levels of drug trafficking organizations and violent gangs supplying drugs in our neighborhoods, as we have been doing with ongoing law enforcement operations.
- Have a long-lasting impact by engaging drug manufacturers, wholesalers, practitioners and pharmacists to increase awareness of the heroin and prescription drug problem and push for responsible prescribing and use of these medications throughout the medical community.
- Change attitudes through community outreach and partnership with local organizations following DEA enforcement actions, to equip and empower communities with the tools to fight the heroin and prescription drug epidemic.
The 360 Strategy brings together many experts in substance abuse and prevention to address four key groups by engaging in dialogue and providing information and resources to educate young people about the consequences of drug abuse and trafficking:
- Parents/caregivers in the home;
- Educators and the classroom;
- After school organizations, such as Boy and Girl Scouts and athletic associations;
- The workplace.
In the short term, the goal of the 360 Strategy is to provide as much information as possible in many different forms to reach young people. Officials will work to form a “Community Alliance” that will comprise key leaders from law enforcement, prevention, treatment, the judicial system, education, business, government, civic organizations, faith communities, media, social services and others to form the core of a long-term group that will cross disciplines to help carry the prevention and treatment messages to the local population during the critical post-operation timeframe.
In the future, DEA and its partners also plan to host multi-day summits to bring community leaders together to look for sustainable, impactful efforts to address drug abuse, addiction, trafficking and the violence that accompanies it.
National partners who are participating in the DEA’s 360 Strategy include the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Tennessee, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, DEA Educational Foundation, U.S. Department of Justice’s Violence Reduction Network, The Elks Club, U.S. Department of Health & Humans Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
The response to DEA’s request for local partners in the greater Knoxville area to participate in the DEA 360 Strategy has been overwhelming. Our local partners include AMR Emergency Medical, AMR Rural Metro Fire Department, Appalachia HIDTA, Boys and Girls Club, Buddy’s BBQ, City of Knoxville Mayor’s Office, Coca Cola, Cokesbury United Methodist Church, Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Cornerstone of Recovery, D1, DeRoyal Industries, Dollywood, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Emerald Youth Foundation, Enrichment Federal Credit Union, First Baptist Concord Church, Food City, Fraternal Order of Police, Helen Ross McNabb Center, Knox County District Attorney’s Office, Knox County Health Department, Knox County Mayor’s Office, Knox County Regional Forensic Center, Knox County Schools, Knox County Sheriff Department, Knoxville Fire Department, Knoxville Ice Bears, Knoxville Police Department, Knoxville Zoo, Label Industries, Lamar Advertising, Mayfield Dairy Farms, Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, Metropolitan Drug Commission, the National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, Overcoming Believers Church, Powell United Methodist Church, Regal Entertainment, Summit BHC English Mountain Recovery, Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Smokies Baseball, Tennova Healthcare, University of Tennessee Police Department, and Weigel’s.
“DEA’s 360 Strategy makes use of every community resource available to reach young people and attack the heroin and prescription drug epidemic at every level,” Evans said. “This comprehensive approach unites everyone who has a stake in making Knoxville a safer community for our children.”