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Significance Of Police Week

7.26.16–State Representative Mike Pitts, Laurens County Advertiser

This past month was National Police Week and events are still happening across the country celebrating the courageous efforts of our law enforcement.

As a former law enforcement officer myself, Police Week is especially symbolic. As a current public servant in the state Legislature, representing Laurens and Greenwood counties, my job is not unlike my time on the Greenville Police Force. My career is centered on protecting and advocating for local residents.

I was born and raised in Laurens and I have watched our towns and communities change dramatically over the years, mostly for the better, but we are not immune to threats and criminal activity. That is where the brave men and women in blue come in. No one will argue policing is hard work, but we often don’t take the time to celebrate the good stories and successes.

I would like to highlight a few here: The first is an effort that is happening behind the scenes among local pharmacists, retailers and law enforcement. The National Precursor Log Exchange NPLEX, a smart technology system, is stopping the illegal sale of cold and allergy medicine containing Pseudoephedrine, which some criminals use to make meth at home. This technology used in 33 states instantly blocks purchases of PSE at the point of sale when someone has reached their limit allowed by law.

It also provides law enforcement officers and narcotic agents with valuable intelligence by sending email notification in real time when a meth suspect attempts to purchase PSE. Access to this kind of information is key for law enforcement to do their job well. In fact, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association recently trained hundreds of officers on how to use this system.

I am happy to report the system is working. From January to March of 2016, NPLEX aided law enforcement officers in successfully blocking the illegal sale of over 1 million grams of PSE across the country. In my home county of Laurens, meth is the number one problem affecting our communities. It can be connected to most other crimes such as burglary and larceny and expands into other areas such as the high number of foster care children in my county.

Our badged men and women risk their lives daily in an often-hostile environment for low pay. I take this opportunity by joining others in thanking them for their service and dedication to a profession whose job is never done and their successes should be celebrated whenever we can. This is never over, but it is good to know we are making progress. Thank you to the men and women of the thin blue line.

This op-ed appeared in the Laurens County Advertiser on July 26, 2016.