Haverhill Police Hosting March 27 Q&A on Vaping: DeNaro Warns of ‘Epidemic’ Usage Among Teens

Haverhill Police Officer Jamie Landry showed WHAV various confiscated THC cartridges and other paraphernalia ahead of the department's parent info session in March. (WHAV News photograph)

Haverhill parents, this one’s for you: The city’s police department, in partnership with Haverhill Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Marotta, plans a free panel discussion on the hidden dangers associated with teen vape usage later this month.

According to Chief Alan R. DeNaro, his team of school resource officers and narcotics division was inspired to act after an alarming increase in the presence of THC oils and related paraphernalia in city schools. The March 27 forum, he tells WHAV, is open to parents with children of any age. Think a child is too young to vape? Think again, DeNaro said.

“We have identified a significant need for an educational component for parents in the City of Haverhill due to the fact that this is reaching epidemic proportion with youth—not just in Haverhill but across the country. We’re getting kids in elementary school up through high school—10-year-olds up to 18-year-olds—involved in this, so we felt very compelled that we should run a session.”

Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School Resource Officer Jamie Landry is among those offering presentations at the 7 p.m. session held at Haverhill High School. Landry and fellow panelists—including DeNaro, members of his command staff and narcotics unit—hope to educate parents about things that may be happening under their own roof.

“Kids nowadays using these things are like guinea pigs,” Landry said. “They can watch YouTube, learn how to make things using common chemicals in their houses and make a vapor they can inhale.”

According to Landry, students frequently smoke in classrooms, hallways and school bathrooms. One of the more commonly confiscated vape cartridges comes from the Juul brand and contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, Landry said. Carrying a going rate of $40 in schools, THC juices can be flavored and provide a high more potent than a marijuana joint.

Stronger than the high, however, is the penalty that comes with possession charges. Citations are most often issued to those in possession of the class D substance, with Landry telling WHAV users under 18 are required to take a four-hour drug awareness course and complete 10 hours of community service. Schools have their own additional penalties, usually involving suspension.

Following this month’s forum, the police department plans to schedule professional development and training for school administrators in an effort to get out in front of the new epidemic.

“Just like the heroin epidemic kind of snuck up on us, this has snuck up on us,” Landry said.

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