Williamstown police donate seized funds to anti-drug group

WILLIAMSTOWN — The Williamstown Police Department on Thursday donated $500 in seized drug money to the Drug Free Jackets at Williamstown High School.

Police Chief Shawn Graham said he was thrilled to help out the program, which encourages students to be drug free and allows for random drug testing for those who sign up, which is in its first year at Williamstown High.

Graham said the police department opened a drug forfeiture account in 2016 due to the increasing number of drug arrests. Under state law, money and items which are used in drug transactions can be seized by an investigating police department.

“In the three years prior to me becoming chief in Williamstown, we had seven drug arrests,” Graham said. “In the three years since, we’ve had 180 drug charges.”

Graham said cash seized and money earned from the auctioning of cars and other seized items are used to pay for training and equipment for the police force. This was the first donation the department has made with those funds, and Graham said it was well-deserved.

“We think this program is a great idea,” he said. “I love that these kids have stepped up and are taking it upon themselves to be a better example for all of the people in this community.”

Tom Fenton, president of the Drug Free Jackets, said officials were thrilled with the donation and support from the police department.

“We’re very appreciative,” Fenton said. “It shows how the whole community is working together.”

Fenton said the program is preventive in nature, both alerting parents to possible drug use but more importantly giving students an excuse to not use drugs when they’re offered by peers. Earlier this month, 55 WHS students participated in the first drug screening, and Fenton said officials are looking to increase the number of voluntary participants.

Graham said the City of Williamstown has been supportive of the police department’s efforts to curb the sale and use of drugs in the Williamstown area, and the department has begun working with local schools to get the word out to students and parents about the dangers and signs of drug use.