On Thursday, Senator McConnell attended the Hardin County press announcement that it had been included in the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). Senator McConnell has been a long-time advocate of including Hardin County in the anti-drug program, and, as recently as August, met with Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske in his office in the United States Capitol to discuss Kentucky's widespread drug abuse challenges and the importance of including Hardin County in HIDTA.
Senator McConnell said: "Kentucky is losing approximately 100 people a month in drug-related deaths. No demographic and no age group is immune, as the Elizabethtown Police Department was reminded of earlier this year upon being called to E-town High School to investigate a 15-year-old student who was attempting to sell prescription drugs stolen from a relative. This growing scourge of drugs must be stopped."
He continued: "Given Hardin County's location along a key north-south drug distribution route into Louisville, and the force-multiplier that inclusion in HIDTA will bring to Kentucky law enforcement, my hope is that the decision we're marking today will have positive ripple effects across the commonwealth.
"Every one of us has a responsibility to wage this fight against drug abuse, because the lives of our fellow Kentuckians and the future of our communities are in the balance. Today I believe we take a giant step in the right direction."
Elizabethtown Police Chief Tracy Schiller thanked Senator McConnell for his efforts on behalf of Hardin County. He said: "A number of local, state and federal officials assisted in supporting the effort to gain this designation. Of these, Senator McConnell played a most critical role. Senator McConnell was exceptionally eager to help facilitate the HIDTA designation, and without his direct assistance this success would not have been possible. Since 2011, Senator McConnell has advocated for Hardin County's inclusion into the HIDTA program, and he continues to be a strong advocate on our behalf."
He continued: "Throughout the entire process, he has demonstrated his keen understanding of both the need and the positive impact this would have upon our community. He worked hard to ensure the Drug Czar understood Hardin County's challenges. In fact, Senator McConnell invited Director Kerlikowske to Kentucky in 2011 to see firsthand the scope of Kentucky's challenges with illegal drugs. Later that same year, in an effort to accentuate his effort further, he followed up by writing Director Kerlikowske in which he again offered his direct support of Hardin County's inclusion. In order to ensure that the process and urgency was kept alive, he personally spoke with the Director in July and August of this year. All of this was done in order to continue his advocacy for our designation."