MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1998202/514-9800


Community Forum To Focus on Methamphetamine

OMAHA -- The wide-spread problem of methamphetamine will be the focus tonight during a community forum in Omaha. The forum, which is sponsored by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Omaha, will be attended by members of the Methamphetamine Interagency Task Force, whose second meeting is being held at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Local experts from Omaha and the surrounding area will be leading an open discussion on methamphetamine, including problems associated with its manufacture, distribution and use. Panel members include representatives from the local drug treatment community, a local drug court, local law enforcement, a school based drug counselor, and a local prevention specialist. Moderating the meeting will be Dr. B.J. Reed, Chair of the Department of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The forum will take place at the Westin Aquila Hotel from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Methamphetamine is a potent, addictive drug with troubling effects and consequences. It is relatively easy to manufacture, so it is extremely difficult to control the distribution and use of the drug. In addition, the manufacturing process poses a serious public health risk due to the presence of several toxic substances that occur in the process. The Methamphetamine Interagency Task Force, created by the Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996, is responsible for evaluating the design and implementation of the education, prevention, and treatment practices and strategies of the Federal government with respect to methamphetamine and other synthetic stimulants.

Jeremy Travis, the Director of the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and Dr. Donald Vereen, Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) are the acting co-chairs of the Task Force (representing Attorney General Janet Reno and ONDCP Director General Barry McCaffrey. They will lead the morning and afternoon Task Force meeting as well as participate in the evening forum.

Jeremy Travis, the former Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), was nominated by President Clinton to head the National Institute of Justice on March 31, 1994 and confirmed by the Senate on September 23, 1994. While with the NYPD, Mr. Travis developed the Civil Enforcement Initiative, which provided lawyers as counsel to police precincts; authored New York City's ban on assault weapons; introduced new technologies into the arrest process; and drafted the Police Department's quality-of-life strategy, entitled "Reclaiming New York's Public Spaces." As chair of the New York City Chancellor's Advisory Panel on School Safety, Mr. Travis developed a proposal for a new approach to school violence.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), a component of the Office of Justice Programs, is the research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. NIJ is authorized to support crime and justice research, evaluation, and demonstration programs, development of technology, and both national and international information dissemination.

Dr. Donald Vereen previously served as Special Assistant to the Director Medical Affairs at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH). During his tenure at NIH, Dr. Vereen's work focused on the development of research conducted in hospital emergency rooms, mental health clinics, urban public schools, and urban communities using epidemiological and ethnographic methodologies. While at NIDA, Dr. Vereen had oversight responsibility for the development of new research partnerships with the criminal justice, treatment, and prevention communities, which included research addressing the relationship between drugs and violence.

The principal purpose of ONDCP is to establish policies, priorities, and objectives for the Nation's drug control program, the goals of which are to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking; drug-related crime and violence; and drug-related health consequences. To achieve these goals, the Director of ONDCP is charged with producing the National Drug Control Strategy, which directs the Nation's anti-drug efforts and establishes a program, a budget, and guidelines for cooperation among Federal, State, and local entities.

For further information on the Omaha Community Forum on Methamphetamine or the Methamphetamine Interagency Task Force, contact Charles Miller, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at (202) 514-9800.