JEFFERSONVILLE — Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill met with community leaders from Clark and Floyd counties Wednesday to help forge communication on addressing crime and addiction in the area.
The stop at the Jeffersonville Township Public Library was part of a 14-city tour Hill is taking around the state to gather information and to discuss the issues and how different community agencies can work together to solve them.
The information will be used to identify and connect resources and target legislation that could improve safety in the communities. Hill will present the information at a statewide substance abuse symposium in October.
"There is a consistency of concern," Hill said Wednesday after the forum, which was closed to media. "We are one state, but different regions, so there are similarities and differences."
One of the common themes, he said, has been "the multi-dimensional aspect of the substance abuse culture," but he recognizes that regions are dealing with it differently. Substance abuse issues in northwestern Indiana are different from southeastern Indiana, he said.
"What I learned is that in the Jeffersonville area, there are a great deal of people who are not only willing but able to collaboratively participate in a genuine dialogue about identifying what the problems are and how to move forward," Hill said.
"We had a great group here, including a lot of treatment prevention program [staff] identifying things that actually work."
The roughly 20 participants in Wednesday's forum included members of law enforcement, health care staff and state leaders, among others.
Floyd County Superior Court No. 3 Judge Maria Granger participated in the discussion Wednesday. She said a big takeaway was recognizing the positive partnerships and programs already in place.
"There's a lot of good things happening in Southern Indiana in terms of addressing and preventing crime, addressing substance abuse and collaborating between governments, schools and mental health," Granger said.
But she knows there are barriers — including funding and the need for more mental health opportunities in the community.
"We need more people in the field that can be out there working with families," she said, adding that "hopefully, we'll continue to bring employers and housing into the fray so that when people do go through recovery and achieve solid footing again, that they're able to get back to work, support their families and continue to flourish."
State Rep. Rita Fleming of Jeffersonville said the forum was valuable because it brought people together.
"I think the most important thing we learned is that we accomplish more with collaboration," Fleming said. "We accomplish more by putting aside our political parties, our professional organizations, our territorialities and work together."
She gave the example of grassroots community addiction resource and education group Clark County CARES as proof that people from different sectors can collaborate to help solve community issues.
"That's a great example of people coming together and working together," she said. "We have a lot of work to do but when we have leadership from our attorney general and people who are genuinely interested and aware of these problems, we will keep attacking it."
Other cities listed in the attorney general's listening tour are Indianapolis, South Bend, Fort Wayne, Evansville, Gary, Bloomington, Kokomo, Lafayette, Terre Haute, Shelbyville, Richmond, Lawrenceburg and Anderson.