Dr. Cheryl May, director of the Criminal Justice Institute since 2009, spoke to a local civil club Monday. The institute was established in 1994 and is part of the University of Arkansas system.
One of the institute’s main goals is to enhance the proficiency and professionalism of law enforcement. This leads to solving and preventing more crime, May said.
The institute has an academic partnership with universities and colleges, 17 with 2-year colleges and 5 with 4-year universities. There are now 31 online courses. It has presented 746 different classes statewide with over 19,000 attendees.
May said safety programs are an important part of the institute’s mission. They include suicide prevention for law enforcement personnel which is a major problem nationally and, as for traffic stops, May said there is no such thing as a “routine” traffic stop for an officer.
The main drug problem in Arkansas remains methamphetamine, May noted. In 2004-2005, she said the problem was meth labs. With help from the state legislature, such labs dwindled, but the Mexican cartels came in to provide meth — meth that is incredibly pure, May said.
As for drug overdoses, 400-plus lives have been saved statewide by Naloxone, a medication for opioid abuse, she said.
And as for the use of prescription pain meds without a prescription, May said Arkansas has one of the highest percentage rates in the nation.
May also cautioned not to toss medications in the toilet or garbage because it goes into our water supply. There are drug dropoff spots, for example at the Independence County Sheriff’s Department.