Representatives from local law enforcement agencies spoke with campers attending the Lions Youth International program July 25 at Camp Brim Shire in St. James about the dangers of drug use.

Representatives from local law enforcement agencies spoke with campers attending the Lions Youth International program July 25 at Camp Brim Shire in St. James about the dangers of drug use.
K-9 units from the Phelps County Sheriff's and Rolla Police Departments also demonstrated how the units operate both in searching for drugs and neutralizing threatening assailants.
"It takes seven years to totally train a dog," Phelps County K-9 handler Glenn Suschanke said, "At which point they are about ready to retire, and so you have to start all over again."
The dogs stay with the handlers, but are not pets, Suschanke said, who lives with a 1-year old British black Labrador named Jet.
"This is his job," Suschanke said. "If you start to treat them like pets they begin to behave like pets."
That can be dangerous for officers who rely on the dogs for protection. Once the dog retires it is placed in a home where it can return to normal domesticated pet life.
Josh Campbell with the Rolla Police Department said the department's K-9 unit is a team, including both he and his half German Shepherd, half Belgian Malinois dog named Chaos.
"We are a K-9 unit," Campbell said. "If dogs could drive a van, I'd be out of a job."
Chaos demonstrated a keen aptitude for sniffing out contraband, by tracking down a hidden box with drugs enclosed.
A sergeant with PCSD, who works closely interdicting drug traffickers along the I-44 corridor, joined the law enforcement officers in urging students to avoid the pitfalls of drug use.
"It's about helping kids make the right choices," the sergeant said. "I was born in Sicily and saw the damage the Mafia did. Napoli and Sicily have a terrible heroin problem. I also do it because I enjoy meeting the kids from across the world. We've been doing this for about 14 years."
Brendon Fox, an assistant Phelps County Prosecuting attorney, was also on hand to speak with campers about the differences between world and U.S. justice systems, as well as endemic societal problems that come with drug use.
"As a result of drug use, we also have accompanying problems," Fox said.
Not only do addicts break the law in the trafficking and use of drugs, but they often resort to secondary crimes to support their addictions.
"We deal a lot with property crimes, like theft and burglary," Fox said.
The Lions International Youth Program hosted 13 youth from 10 different countries, from across Western Europe to South America. Students were selected to participate in the program through a competitive application process that included the essay writing and interviews.  
"The Lions are an international service organization," said Missouri Lions International Program coordinator Toni Mahoney, of Richwood.
The campers arrived at Camp Brim Shire during early July and stayed through July 27.
Camp Brim Shire hosts a wide range of service programs, including those for children with disabilities, veterans and seniors.
"We started in 1980 with the property and $100," said camp founder Richard Hashagen. "Through our programs, we now serve about 150 kids, 4,000 kids with disabilities, 350 veterans and 500 seniors.
"It's all about giving something back," Hashagen said. "(My wife) Sherry and I have been so blessed, and we love spending time with the kids."
The camp is open from March through September each year. Those interested in supporting the camp can mail donations to P.O. Box 423, St. James, 65559.