County Attorney Emphasizes When It Comes To Kids Their Focus Is On Safety, Not Arrests

Aug 24, 2018

The Summit County Attorney’s office is urging parents to contact them if their family members come into contact with dangerous synthetic drugs like pink.

At the same time, parents may be concerned they may open themselves up to criminal liability.

Speaking to KPCW this week, County Attorney Margaret Olson and Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter didn’t promise anything. But they said their focus is more on safety than arrests.

Earlier this summer, authorities issued an alert to the community that local individuals were again obtaining drugs over the dark web. Olson said that prompted a lot of questions.

“A number of parents and also a number of reporters from this station had asked me ‘what are parents supposed to do? How are they supposed to trust turning over a substance that they find in their child’s backpack to law enforcement?’ That feels a little counter-intuitive it feels like buying trouble.” Olson continued, “So, what the Chief and I are here today to try and do is to encourage parents to look at local law enforcement as an ally an as a resource and as a help. Instead of looking at local law enforcement as a foe or something to be feared. The juvenile court act as it’s presently written, along with basic principles of prosecutorial discretion give my office a huge ability to work with families and individuals.”

She said their major objective is public safety.

“The goal here--which is the same with law enforcement, with the county attorney’s office and with parents—are safe kids, safe homes, and safe schools.” Olson explained, “We don’t need to get there by rote enforcement. We can get there through smart prosecution, we can get there through using the tools and resources available already in our system to get treatment, to get education to get information to parents and families.”

Chief Carpenter talked about how they introduce their new officers to the situation, which includes the possibility that even casual contact with the drugs can be deadly.

“You have to educate, you have to make changes. When we hire officers, they have an understanding of what the expectation is. I’m not saying that they wouldn’t ever arrest. I’m not saying that, but the idea is to really help them find their way through this process. Meaning that, when we’re worried about the health safety issues as we were before, as you recall when we put out the public alert. Please contact law enforcement, we’ll send officers over if we need to treat it as a hazmat. Some of these substances are so deadly, as with the Pink, one microgram could kill you. So, you don’t know what you’re touching.” Carpenter said, “Obviously, our officers are trained on what they can and can’t do and if we had to treat this as a hazmat we would. Unfortunately, these young people have no idea what they’re getting. Margaret and I were talking just prior to this about a case in Connecticut, and we’ve had these cases here too, where even marijuana’s been laced with things.”

Olson urged parents to get in touch with her.

“I would like to invite any parent who finds something suspicious in their child’s backpack, call me personally. Let’s work through it, we can work through it anonymously if possible.” Olson continued, “The goal here isn’t to arrest and prosecute everything to the ends of the earth. The goal is safe children, safe schools, safe community.”