Louisville Magazine

AUG 2015

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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52 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.15 52 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.15 says misdemeanors can, of course, still result in jail time, but, he says, "If you're a user and we arrest you, and you have at most 182 days you can spend in jail . . . the only way we're going to get you to do 182 days is if we try you, and no county has the resources to try every misdemeanor." So plea deals are made — a couple months in jail, maybe rehab. Mount says that "revolving door" criticism "sets me of." He points to data showing that, per capita, Scott County sends more people to prison that any other county in Indiana except one. And he says the county's two judges routinely set high bonds. Te Indiana Department of Corrections pushed for the law change to clear overpopulated prisons of low-level criminals. Mount says it's now mostly up to counties to come up with alternatives, perhaps rely on probation more. But Scott County's probation department is swamped as is. Five ofcers each have about 300 cases. Te recommendation is 100. Spicer fnishes his meal, leaving most of the green beans. His two-way radio squawks: "Call in, please. It's an emergency." He sighs. "Everything is an emergency to some people," he says. He calls the number dispatch gives him. "Tis is Donald Spicer — what's going on?" he says into his cell phone. "Yeah, yeah, yup. I'd heard about it." He patiently listens to a concerned father whose daughter just started using. "It's crazy. Tat's the street value of them now," Spicer says. One Opa- na can cost anywhere from $30 to $200. When Opana frst swamped Scott County, they obtained them through prescriptions or relatives with prescriptions. Tey were easy to get from doctors leaning on pain pills as a quick fx to chronic pain. (Since 2007, two pharmaceutical companies have pleaded guilty to criminal charges that they misled doctors into believing the drugs were safe.) One couple that received pills from an aunt admitted to shooting up $2,000 worth of pills in a day. Now, most of the Opanas are trafcked in from other counties and states. (Unlike urban areas, heroin has only made a small appearance in Scott County. Meth remains problematic.) Te man asks Spicer to talk sense into his daughter. "We'll look into it," the chief says. Spicer speaks slow and mellow. Te tone could be mistaken for indiference, a man ready to trade out a badge for a fshing pole. (He owns a small bait shop in town.) But he grew up just a few blocks from this Huddle House, in a neighbor- hood known as Spicertown. A great-uncle still lives right near the ditch that, as a child, Spicer and his buddy would plunge their bikes into after a good rain. Closest thing to a splash park. We head to Spicer's impeccably clean black Dodge Charger to ride around Austin. Spicer's fngers occasionally swipe of inconspicuous dust on the dash. He's quick to share his main challenge: Austin has six ofcers. Tat basically amounts to one cop on duty every shift. "Current federal statistics say (you should have) 2.3 ofcers per 1,000 (residents) . . . just to maintain the law," he says. Tat would add up to about 10 ofcers, four more bodies than he has now. Spicer has no detectives, no special drug unit. Indiana State Police and the Scott County sherif help when they can. At one time, Spicer had eight full-time ofcers and two part-time. But that federal grant dried up. Growing up, he says, marijuana and cocaine were the drugs he heard about around town. Te pain pills came "about 16 or 17 years ago," with OxyContin leading the way. He started at the depart- ment as a volunteer ofcer 20 years ago. By the time he became chief in 2002, he knew there were problems. He watched a former high school classmate turn to prostitution to aford drugs. People were demanding pills from Scott County Me- morial Hospital's emergency rooms and holding up pharmacies. "One of the frst things I did as chief . . . was to eliminate us taking reports of stolen medication," he says. People who reported they'd had drugs stolen would "take the police report back to the doctor (to get more drugs). Well, we picked up on that very quickly. Tey were trying to use us to get drugs." Spicer drives down Main Street and points to a young brunette in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, a gas-station soda in hand. "Tere's one of our prostitutes. She has a nickname — 'Polar Pop,'" he says. "Seriously." Spicer hopes to hire a seventh cop by the fall. Austin's tax base doesn't give him a lot of wiggle room in the budget to cover the $35,000 salary. People go to Scottsburg to grocery shop, Clarksville to dine out. Multi-million-dollar Morgan Foods sits right across from the police sta- tion but technically isn't in city limits, so it pays no city taxes. "Not enough money to go around," Spicer says. We pass a trio lingering on the side of a street on Austin's north side. "Tey are up to something no good," he says, pausing. "But — that's not enough to arrest them." As he drives, Spicer seems drained, a bit troubled. Spotting a home that looks in- side out — broken appliances, furniture and scrap on the porch — he quietly says, "You can't fault somebody for being poor." He wrestles between compassion and logic. "Tey're making choices," he says, referring to drug use. "Tey choose to do it." But one of his daughters was addicted to meth. "I'm not proud of it, being a police ofcer," Spicer says. "But the point is it doesn't matter what kind of money you have or what family you came from. If you make the wrong choice, you can be on the wrong side." He says his daughter has completed a lengthy rehab and is better now. But Spicer now understands that addiction is a chronic disease, that it alters brain chemistry. It seizes judgment and behavior parts of the brain. It can take months or years of sobriety for the brain to fully recover. "It's a monster, really," he says. O n a humid May evening, a faithful crowd packs into Grace Covenant Church on Main Street. From the pulpit, pastors energize. "Father, tonight we pray that you will expose anything that is not right in this community, and not just expose it but expose it by name!" "Yes, yes!" Te crowd rejoices. Hands lift. Hundreds of heads nod. People have wandered. HIV arrived for a reason. "God has allowed this to happen for his own personal beneft, not just for the peo- ple in the streets to come back to him," a young man preaches. "Tis is for us! We've been apathetic. We've been slow and weak in our regards to Christ." "Amen, amen!" Te congregation exits. Tonight is the weekly prayer walk. A mass of bodies, as wide as the street and longer than a city block, walk into the sunlight and through- out Austin. A man who leads blows a shofar, an ancient instrument traditionally made from a ram's curly horn. Often used to proclaim spiritual warfare, the mourn- ful wail silences the crowd. Hands join. Eyelids collapse. Some mumble. Some announce. "Tis is the change we really needed." "God, expose sin! Expose the darkness!" Chief Spicer understands the way it alters brain chemistry. It seizes judgment and behavior parts of the brain. It can take months or years of sobriety for the brain to fully recover. "It's a monster, really," he says.

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