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Approximately 200 Amish residents in Trumbull County gathered at the Mesopotamia fire station Monday evening for an open forum to discuss drug issues relating to heroin and methamphetamine.
The meeting was called at the request of bishops within the Amish community, who reached out to police for help. Our station was asked not to show video from inside the meeting, but two police officers and a member the Trumbull Ashtabula Group drug task force spoke, and went over meth and heroin awareness tips.
Police also addressed vandalism and underage drinking, saying there has been a rise in large parties where Amish kids are drinking, but police can’t do anything about it if no one speaks up. They urged the community to “help us help you.”
“To this point, the Amish generally don’t like to report things. They like to take care of it in their own church. What we’re trying to do is get cooperation so we can help them and aid them in correcting some of these problems,” said Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Harold Firster.
Police also stressed that the Amish community can help keep drugs out of the county by being the eyes and ears of rural areas. The general message given was “if it looks suspicious, call and report it.”
But police said there is a very big concern over retaliation. Many Amish are fearful that should they speak up, there would be repercussions of some sort, similar to the beard cutting incidents that had taken place several years ago.
Police said all they need is an anonymous tip, and stressed that if they don’t know about the issues, there is nothing they can do to help.