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'Operation Street Smart' at Lourdes

Franklin County’s Sheriff’s Office teaches how to spot drug paraphernalia


Lt. Shawn Bain, right, answers questions about illegal drugs and their paraphernalia after helping lead a presentation entitled, "Operation Street Smart."

The Blade/Katie Rausch
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When it comes to drug addiction, concealment is a factor, and two officers from the Franklin County’s Sheriff’s Office today taught a group of residents how to spot containers made specifically to hold drugs.

PHOTO GALLERY: Street Smart presentation

Retired Sgt. Michael Powell and Lt. Shawn Bain provided tips to a roomful of attendees in the early evening session of the Sylvania Community Action Teams Operation: Street Smart presentation. The two, both with extensive backgrounds in narcotics investigation, had at least four tables filled with different products created to conceal drug products, such as marijuana and prescription pills. Items were reviewed by more than 100 people in attendance at the first of two sessions held at Lourdes University.

Pop and oil cans designed in likeness of major brands as well as nondescript items, such as a small crumbled paper receipt thrown on the car floor, can be used to hide a dab of heroin or a stash of prescription pills.

Both officers showed at least 20 items that are manufactured, not altered, for the purpose of drug deception. They told the audience about clues that their child may be abusing drugs, giving details on signs for each specific drug, including marijuana and heroin, and alcohol.

One major clue: an item being used as a drug container or paraphernalia that has a hole in it that would allow for smoking what is contained inside, Sergeant Powell said.

An item such as an electrical outlet or strip could be used to fool someone of its real purpose. They said if something that is normally plugged in for an electrical charge, like a electrical strip, lights up when it’s not plugged in, chances are it has a secret compartment.

They also told parents not to shrug off the little oddities that are seen in their teens, such as a child coming home late night smelling like gasoline, or cologne, both scents used to conceal the smell of marijuana. “You don’t smell like gas when you fill your car up ... and you put cologne on before you go out, not when you come home,” Sergeant Powell said.

“If you come across something that does not make sense in that person’s life, and it does not seem to add up, maybe we can change something. You need to pay attention to it,” he said.

Parent Maryann King traveled from Waterville to stay abreast of the latest drugs, code words, and paraphernalia. She said she was not shocked by some of the stories she heard the officers tell which they learned from addicts, because she made it a point to know “what’s going on,” in terms of drug use.

The officers told stories about children executing well thought out plans and manipulating their parents to shroud drug or alcohol use. They explained that children, a month before they are going to smoke pot in their bedroom, will introduce new odors into the house, used to conceal the strong marijuana odor, so when parents walk down the hall and smell air freshener they don’t think anything of it.

The officers also taught the audience a variety of code words for each drug and passed out street smart pamphlets about drug use.

One Sylvania Township couple in attendance, who declined to give their names, said being educated about drugs will assist them in preventing drug abuse from spreading in their family. The husband and wife, both in their mid-70s said they were shocked with how available drugs were, and how it’s concealed.

“We knew of some [paraphernalia products] but it’s everywhere. They hide it everywhere,” they both said.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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