Alcohol abused more than other drugs

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor

What’s the drug being abused the most in Sherburne County?

Hint: It’s not methamphetamine or prescription drugs.

It’s alcohol, according to Sherburne County Attorney Kathy Heaney.

“We do see abuse going on, obviously, with meth (and) prescription drugs, but alcohol continues to be the primary focus of where we’re putting our prosecution time and effort,” Heaney said. “We have wonderful collaboration between both the sheriff’s office and all of our local jurisdictions including the city of Elk River.”

In a presentation to the Elk River City Council on Monday, Feb. 7, Heaney and Elk River City Prosecutor Scott Baumgartner outlined local crime trends over the last year.

Heaney said they’ve seen a decrease in the number of cases involving youth. However, in the last year she said they’ve seen some “very troubling” crimes committed by youth — criminal sexual conduct being one of those.

The fragile state of the economy is also reflected in trends. The number of bankruptcies, child support modifications and property tax appeals have all been on the rise.

“That will come as a surprise to no one,” Heaney said. “Everybody is looking at their bottom line.”
Baumgartner said there has been an increase in the number of thefts in Elk River in the last year. The number of DWIs in Elk River is also up, but Baumgartner noted that there have been increased efforts by the police department to target DWIs and that’s reflected in the statistics.

The economy could also be a contributing factor in the larger number of DWIs and in domestic assault cases, he said.

While the number of gross misdemeanor domestic assault cases dropped slightly in Elk River in the last year, the number of misdemeanor ones increased.

“A lot of it is stress-related as you talk to the victims,” Baumgartner said. “What’s going on in the households, I think, is just representative of the times and what people are going through with the financial struggles and everything else.”

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