Dade Co. Sheriff's Office offering free drug tests for teens - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dade Co. Sheriff's Office offering free drug tests for teens

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The Dade County sheriff's office is starting a new drug testing program to help young people turn their lives around before it is too late. The sheriff says it is a free service he is offering parents who suspect their teen or young adult may be on drugs.

Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross says more and more he has seen young people turning to the illegal use of prescription pills and methamphetamine in his county. He wants both parents and children to know someone is here to help.

"I thought, 'We've got to do something to help these kids. And the parents,'" says Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross.

Cross says he has seen first-hand the effect drugs can have on a young person's life.

"I've had several young people in my office, sitting in these chairs that you're sitting in. I've seen them in tears in here crying and wanting to get off these drugs and can't. They started at a young age and it's progressed now that they can't, they're so addicted to it they can't get off of it. And they need some kind of help," says Cross.

Cross says his office is now offering free drug tests, even spreading the word on the department's Facebook page.     

"Parents are coming to us and asking if we can do some kind of drug testing because there were suspicions of their kids maybe using pills or methamphetamines."

Cross says he is not out to lock kids up.

"I want to stress this not going to lead to an arrest. This is for the parent's knowledge only. This is not for making an arrest or anything. It's just so the parents can know if their kid may be using drugs that are not prescribed to them," says Cross.

He just wants to stop them from heading down a dark path.

"Our goal is, if they need this help, we try to get them into some sort of rehab program or something before it escalates into something worse."

Over the counter tests range in price from $15 to $40 or more. But Cross says the state kits are more accurate.

"This is not going to cost the taxpayers a dime. This comes out of our drug education fund where we've seized drugs and have drug money that we've seized and stuff. So it comes out of that," says Cross.

"Actually, I think it's a good idea. It's a subject that hits close to home," says Breanna Haggard.

Parents like Breanna Haggard are praising the sheriff's office for the idea. 

"It would be a good way that you could be a step ahead of it and maybe control it," she says.

"By doing this, we hope that it will save lives," says Cross.

Cross says it is strictly a voluntary program. His office is not going to force a young person into taking a test.

He also stresses it is for Dade County residents only. If you are a parent and you are interested in arranging a test, just give the Dade County Sheriff's Office a call. 
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