Approximately 200 Amish residents in Trumbull County gathered at the Mesopotamia fire station Monday evening for an open forum to discuss drug issues relating to heroin and methamphetamine.
The meeting was called at the request of bishops within the Amish community, who reached out to police for help. Our station was asked not to show video from inside the meeting, but two police officers and a member the Trumbull Ashtabula Group drug task force spoke, and went over meth and heroin awareness tips.
Police also addressed vandalism and underage drinking, saying there has been a rise in large parties where Amish kids are drinking, but police can’t do anything about it if no one speaks up. They urged the community to “help us help you.”
“To this point, the Amish generally don’t like to report things. They like to take care of it in their own church. What we’re trying to do is get cooperation so we can help them and aid them in correcting some of these problems,” said Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Harold Firster.
No doubt these concerns have been exacerbated by the shooting of two Geauga County Amish teens two weeks ago (it’s not explained above, but this meeting happened in the Geauga County settlement, which extends into Trumbull County).
The teens were shot on a Saturday while picking up stereo equipment, which suggests a party may have been at hand.
However, this bit in the report just seemed bizarre: ”Many Amish are fearful that should they speak up, there would be repercussions of some sort, similar to the beard cutting incidents that had taken place several years ago.”
I’m not sure who’ll be doing the beard cutting, since that was a Sam Mullet creation, and not an Amish disciplinary practice. Sounds more like someone’s conjecture inserted into the piece.
Interestingly, Amish in this same community have not had a problem reporting incidents in the recent past, at least in the case of a pair of robberies perpetrated against Amish couples in 2012.
Said one Amishman at the time: “If they think the Amish people won’t report it and press charges, they’re wrong, because we will. They need to go to prison, and that’s what the government is here for, they’re ordained from God to prosecute the people who do wrong.”
This particular person sounded adamant about getting police involved, which seems in sharp contrast to what the authorities are suggesting in the report.
Perhaps it depends on what the crime is, or who is doing the reporting, or who is apt to get into trouble. For that matter I’m not sure how realistic it is to expect parents, Amish or English, to inform police of their children’s parties, unless something really troubling is going on.
Geauga County has had a reputation for rowdy Amish youth. That typically translates into alcohol and parties, though may verge into more sinister realms. Though I have no idea if the efforts concerning hard drugs are proactive or reactive in this case.
What do you think?