The Jim Thorpe Area Police Department hosted a "Drug Awareness & Recognition" program at Jim Thorpe Memorial Hall.

The presentation is part of a more widespread effort by law enforcement to educate and raise the awareness of the public about the existence of gangs and drug use in the area.

Along with Jim Thorpe Police Chief Joseph Schatz, Mayor Michael Sofranko, and Officer Justin Sannie, Carbon County District Attorney Gary Dobias also addressed those present at the meeting.

The audience included representatives from each of the schools in the Jim Thorpe area, local community and government officials, and local residents.

An informative Powerpoint presentation made by Officer Justin Sannie and narrated by Chief Schatz highlighted important points for everyone to pay close attention to.

These points, which they were advised to be aware of included: peer pressure, warning signs, the use and abuse of tobacco, alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, heroin, and prescription medications.

A problem that has become increasingly more evident is the abuse of dangerous synthetic drugs such as "bath salts" and fake marijuana called "spice."

Also discussed was the "Eastern Pennsylvania Drug & Gang Threat Assessment" done by the US Department of Justice about the expansion of gangs and drug drug trafficking in the area.

There was also a display of actual drug paraphernalia which included cigarette rolling papers, a variety of pipes, disguised scales, bongs, and containers to hide drugs in.

Mayor Sofranko said the mission is to "let people know what we have found in Jim Thorpe, and what we have found in the area relative to drugs and educate people on it."

"I think that the Jim Thorpe Police Department did a really good job in doing this presentation tonight," Dobias said. "My purpose was to talk about the problem that is the use of synthetic drugs - drugs that mimic the effects of illegal drugs but are not as of yet illegal.

"The message that I am trying to give is twofold - number one, hopefully these substances will be made illegal by the Pennsylvania legislature very shortly, and secondly, people should remember that they are going to be responsible for the actions they commit while on these drugs."

"This program is due to a lot of hard work by our chief of police, our mayor, and all of the police officers," said John McGuire, borough council president. "They are really dedicated to clean up the drugs here in town and we'll back them as council as much as we can."

"Council has been very supportive financially for the police department, and that means a lot that we have the money and the tools to do the job and I thank them for that. We've accomplished a lot in a year," Sofranko said.

"We would like to do this (presentation) in different areas of town, we'd like to take it to PTOs, volunteer organizations, little league, wherever anyone wants us to come and show them what we have and how to react to it," he said in conclusion.