Franklin County DA: 'There's no silver bullet'

— By JOYCE F. NOWELL, Echo Pilot
Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal addressed an audience of local officials in Greencastle-Antrim. He discussed the activities of the Franklin County Drug Task Force, along with prevention and treatment.

“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this. We’re just not.”

That was part of the message Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal brought to a gathering of local government and school officials recently.

While Fogal shared statistics that showed robust enforcement activity throughout the county in 2015 with 119 cases investigated, 67 arrests made with numerous kinds of narcotics seized, he told members of the Greencastle Borough Council, Antrim Township Board of Supervisors and the Greencastle-Antrim School Board during a joint meeting Wednesday, April 13, in the middle school library that prevention and treatment are key.

“We can throw people in jail, but do you really think they are going to come out any better?” he asked.

Without going into any specifics, Fogal said he is actively looking outside the box at ways to battle addiction, which has reached epidemic proportions with heroin.

“It’s very scary,” he added. “How do we get at this? Money is always an issue. We’re trying to use interesting things to get at the problem.

“As far as prevention goes I don’t have a silver bullet. But the more it’s talked about the better. The more awareness is a good thing.”

Looking for answers

Fogal’s thoughtful overview of the work of the Franklin County Drug Task Force in 2015 brought a sobering reality to the presence of drug trafficking and use locally. While just a handful of the 67 arrests made in the county last year were in Greencastle and Antrim Township, that doesn’t mean they aren’t buying elsewhere and using locally.

“It’s here in Greencastle. It’s in Chambersburg. It’s in Waynesboro. It’s all around the state. It’s up and down the Atlantic seaboard. It’s all around,” the county’s chief law enforcement officer pronounced.

“And this can happen to anyone. We can’t feel that we’re embarrassed to talk about this and it will just go away. The more we are appropriately discussing this as an illness, is a healthier conversation.”

Indeed Fogal pointed to education as key in the battle.

“It’s terrible. It scares me,” said Fred Young III, Antrim Township supervisor.

“I’ve seen it in my neighborhood. I’ve seen people go away, being incarcerated, going to rehab. It’s real and it’s here. What can we do to help?”

Fogal responded, “You are leaders in your community. You can educate and you can help raise the awareness. I think enough people have been impacted personally that you know its happening and maybe there is less stigma to users than what there used to be. There’s not an easy answer.

“There’s no silver bullet to fix this in Greencastle. Education is important for everyone, especially the next generation, which is the most vulnerable.”

Educating parents

Also in attendance at the meeting were Scott Mummert, the chief county detective, and Greencastle Police Chief John Phillippy. Phillippy delivered a strong message that education must extend to parents.

“We are not going to enforce this out of existence,” the chief said. “Treatment is a hit and miss process.

“The solution is to get these kids before they get involved. Quite frankly, the solution to that is to start teaching some parents to be parents. Kids need parents, not best friends. Interact with your kids.”

Phillippy said too often young people are left to their own devices with no guidance, such as with video games like Grand Theft Auto.

“Parents have no clue what games like this are about and some even play with their kids,” he related. “Is this the type of family value that we want to promote to our young people?

“You asked what you can do. We have to get in between and that involves parents. Until that happens, we’re not going to fix this.”

CASES            119

ARRESTS          67


CASH SEIZED                 $44,492

VEHICLES SEIZED            8


RIFLES SEIZED            5

SHOTGUNS SEIZED            2


Cocaine                  36 ounces

Crack                  113 grams

Synthetic marijuana                33 grams

Heroin               173.6 grams

Marijuana             10.15 pounds

Other narcotics (pills)                 203 pills

PCP                   10 grams