How you can help

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

How can an individual citizen help in the battle against drug dealers? The first step is public awareness, drug enforcement officials stress.

''Most people when they see a break-in, don't connect it with drugs,'' says Lt. Larry Jetmore, commander of Hartford's vice and narcotics squad. But addicts often support habits costing hundreds of dollars each week, he says, and they have to steal to get the money. Many law-enforcement officials see a direct link between drug addiction and street crime.

''If you cut a secondary school education program, at the next town council 50 or 100 people will be screaming their heads off,'' says Anthony Senneca, agent in charge of the Hartford office of the Drug Enforcement Administration. ''But cut $50,000 out of a police investigation unit and no one shows up.''

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An aroused public can petition legislators to fund drug-treatment and, especially, drug-abuse prevention programs, police officials say. They could also push for changes in laws that could help police efforts. (The big issue in Connecticut seems to be limited wiretapping authority.)

Finally, if citizens do see illegal drug activity, they can call the local narcotics division to report it -- anonymously, if they prefer.

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