Nov. 12—CUMBERLAND—Cumberland Police Corporal. Jeremy Hedrick witnessed first hand the damage the opioid epidemic was having on the community he was committed to protecting and serving and decided to do something about it.
In 2014 and 2015, Hedrick noticed a change on the streets, including fatal overdoses and the criminal activity that comes with opioid abuse and drug trafficking. Although he fought the outbreak on the front lines with the police department’s narcotics unit, in 2016 he took a job in schools as a resource officer. It was there that he realized he could reach out to young people and educate them about the dangers of opioids before they learned about it the wrong way.
Hedrick’s years of work caught the attention of Governor Larry Hogan and on Monday he received a citation from the Governor, presented by Western Maryland Field Representative Mark Widmyer.
“It’s a great award for Corporal Hedrick to show appreciation for all he does and has done in the school system even before becoming a school resource officer,” Ben Brauer said. , Director of Title IX of Frostburg State University and former Supervisor of Student Services and School Safety for Allegany County Public Schools. “With the opioid epidemic that we had and we have now, he stepped in and put things in place in the schools that made a difference with our kids way beyond what we even know. “
Some of the programs Hedrick created involve getting drug addicts to talk to students about drug addiction and organizing fundraisers to purchase educational materials.
“In previous years, kids didn’t see it as much,” Hedrick said. “But, with more things coming up, the kids were talking to us more about maybe seeing the parents and needle stuff, so we tried to explain to them the side effects and the long-term impact and what we can do to help them.
“I started doing a lot of things bringing in drug addicts to talk to kids about how they had become addicted. Everyone had an idea of what a drug addict or drug addict looked like. A lot of people I ‘ve brought were very fit and everything else.”
Case work, Hedrick said, “I saw we were dealing with the same people over and over again and I thought if I could get to them at an early age, maybe I wouldn’t deal with them later in life. . I tell them they are making one decision far from changing the rest of their lives.”
With the support of several other agents and community leaders, Hedrick started the Prescribe Change Four-Mile Run and One Mile Walk to raise funds to purchase educational materials. This money has helped pay for the booklets used in class in recent years.
In 2019, Hedrick was the keynote speaker for the Opioid Operation Command Center’s Youth Prevention and Intervention Summit, which was attended by law enforcement and educators from across the state. He is also responsible for drug abuse resistance education, winning the 2019 Dare Hero Award. He has trained law enforcement in Garrett and Montgomery counties in the identification of illegal drugs and the role of resource agent.
Widmyer presented the citation in front of numerous fellow police officers, educators, Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss and members of the Allegany High School City Council.
“He also won an award from his own people for his work and we wanted to follow that with the Governor’s Citation,” Widmyer said. “The Governor very much appreciates all of the first responders and really appreciates what our police officers do. They get very little credit for what they do.”
Morriss said: “We are all proud of Jeremy and everything he has done. Being an SRO is a hugely important job to help protect our young people and be a good role model and Jeremy is doing a great job. He is so important to get young people before they’ve been exposed to any of these class I drugs and that’s why what Jeremy is doing is very important.”
Greg Larry is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email [email protected] and follow him on Twitter.