Culpeper Town Police launch ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’

Participants will walk through a staged teen’s bedroom taking notes of clues to items that could point to risky behaviors.
Courtesy photo

Attorney General Mark Herring visited Culpeper recently to get an update on what’s working at the local level to help combat the opioid overdose statistics.

One program, that will be introduced at the Open Minds event, held May 23 at Germanna’s Daniel Technology Center could make a difference.

The Culpeper Town Police are launching a new program called ‘‘Hidden in Plain Sight.” Patterned after a program now in use in Ohio, it’s a community awareness presentation to educate parents and caregivers about risky behaviors.

It’s more than literature.

It’s a hands on experience walking adults through an average teen’s bedroom looking for signs that their teen may be at risk for alcohol use, marijuana, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, mental disorders, sexting or other behaviors that could be indicators of behaviors that need attention.

As an example, one trend that local law enforcement are seeing are ‘skittle’ or ‘farming’ parties where teens will bring an assortment of pills found in the house and dump them in a bowl. Party goers will grab three or four for perhaps a happy high.

“They could be anything from diet pills and vitamins to prescription drugs or illicit drugs,” said Dodson. “You don’t know what kind of reaction you’ll get mixing those pills and if EMS should arrive they don’t know what has been ingested.”

Participants will be invited to write down their findings, or clues, as they walk through a staged bedroom.

A PowerPoint presentation accompanies the ‘snooping’ exercise showing the various items and how they could be a tool leading to risky behavior.

“It’s about helping and arming parents and caregivers with more information,” says Lt. Jeff Dodson who, along with MPO Tim Sisk, are encouraged and optimistic that risky behaviors that could lead to troubles down the way can be nipped early if parents know how to see the signs.

“We don’t see it so much as punitive measures but signposts where we could be called for advice or direction on where to seek help,” said Dodson. “We want to equip parents…give them tools… open up lines of communication with their teens.”

Sponsored in part from the Culpeper Wellness Foundation, the Culpeper Police Department offers the program without charge. It is for an adult audience. Young people are not permitted.

The program can be presented to any civic organization, parent group, church group or others where adults can benefit and help the teen population.

“We’re hoping to pack the house,” said Dodson of the full debut of the program that will be presented Wednesday, May 31, at 6:30 p.m. at Culpeper Methodist Church located at 1233 Oaklawn Drive in Culpeper.

Referred to as H.I.P.S. the interactive exhibit designed to resemble a teenager’s bedroom contains more than 100 items which may be indicative of dangerous behavior. This is accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation and discussion.

“For me, if this program can help one child from not getting into a destructive cycle, then we’ve had a good day,” said Dodson.

For more information and/or to schedule the presentation, phone 540-727-3430.

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