The Thin Blue Line of Oro Valley (ft. Lt. Zach Young)

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My home and studio are in Oro Valley, AZ, only an hour away from our southern border. State Route 77, one of the primary smuggling routes for fentanyl and human trafficking, runs right through our town.

So it was with a great deal of appreciation and excitement that I get to introduce to you a member of our brave police force who offered to sit down with us for an interview.

Lt. Zach Young discusses the rising crime in our border town, the human element of crime, and the problem of mental health.

Listen in!



Elaine Beck 0:11
Hi, everyone, I’m Elaine Beck. And this is my show, It’s Not About Us. And as you know, my goal is to serve God and to make sure that I share with the country, all the people that are out there working hard every day to keep us safe, and to make our country stronger, and to answer for the things that are so difficult sometimes, well, I don’t think you can talk to anybody more powerful in that circumstances than the people that we’ve always relied on them. And that is our local police. Our local police are the ones that from the time I was this big, you know, they helped me across the street. They were there. We were told when we were little, you know, if you ever have any problems, and you’re like, if I go to Alliance, Ohio, I was for a while. And I go there, my parents would say, if you have any problems, you go straight to that police officer on the corner. Because we were taught that that’s what they’re here for, is to protect us protection. So I have a wonderful guest today. He is a local police officer, can you tell them your name and and your rank?

Lt. Zach Young 1:26
Absolutely. My name is Lieutenant Zach Young and I worked for the Oro Valley Police Department, I am the Chief Executive Officer currently.

Elaine Beck 1:34
Well, that’s something to be very proud of. And I’m so grateful that you could take this time and come speak to the people because what we’re going to talk about today is the fact that we here in Oro Valley, Arizona, and in Tucson, Arizona, which were a burb of. We’re like just over an hour, less than an hour and a half from or from the border. And so we’re going to talk today a little bit about with you about the fact that what it’s like to serve in a community that is dealing with these things in a personal basis, whether it be as we spoke of ahead of time, the trafficking, or the fentanyl, which, like you said, touches humans all the time. You know, these are the things that our country needs to have a better picture of how difficult your job is, and not that you’re seeking praise and worship or whatever for what you do. But they need to understand the the trials of what we’re all being faced with. Now, as you mentioned before, we have route 77 here, right, that runs right through from the border on up. The sex trafficking happens here. It does it not?

Lt. Zach Young 3:00
It does. In Oro Valley, we human smuggling happens far more often in the State Route 77, which runs through here also known as orca road for the people that live here. We do encounter sex trafficking. And we also have committed as an organization for the training component for our officers, or Valley Police Department, as I’m sure you’re aware that he’s very diligent in traffic enforcement, we’ve kind of built our brand off of that, and you know, the traffic safety, serving our community, all those things. So one way that we train our officers to pay attention when they’re out on traffic stops, right to pay attention to that relationship between the people within the car, who are they what, how is the driver related to the passengers. And so we train our officers to be aware and to ask specific questions. So that if we can, we can disrupt if it is a human trafficking victim.

Elaine Beck 3:58
That’s i That just gives me chills because I watched the movie sound of freedom. And in there, that’s exactly what happened. And they they showed where there was a they were coming through the border. And the little boy who was part of the movie, the young child was questioned, you know about if he was related to the family and stuff. that is powerful. And and it’s not something that we all think of every day that you face is, is trying to be on the job always and thinking those children in that car or young people or even an older person could be being trafficked, and therefore, you need to be aware of that. So may I ask what would you do? Should you think there’s a possibility of that?

Lt. Zach Young 4:55
So we’re going to basically what we want our patrol officers to do is to be curious, when they pull traffic on starts, be curious traffic stop, be curious as to what you’re what you’re seeing within the vehicle. If their stories aren’t lining up, then we’re going to, we’re going to want to start trying to separate people. The difficulty can be in human trafficking and people that have worked it know this is especially when you start getting into teenage and to adult human trafficking, and whether it’s for sex trafficking, or work related trafficking, is the victims can be difficult to deal with. And I say that not difficult, necessarily adversarial to police, which sometimes they are right, or often they are, but you’re dealing with people from foreign countries, a lot of times that don’t know our customs, they could be from Asia, they can be from Central America. And the governments that they come from quite often are not our governments that they have zero trust, the people have zero trust in the government. And that’s the beauty of the American justice system, or what we should be striving for is for the public, to trust the police and their government officials that that that should be paramount in a way every police officer does their job every day is building that trust within our communities. So our communities trust us back when you’re dealing with people that are foreign nationals that are that are trafficked in the United States, though a lot of times you’re not dealing with people that trust the government in any way, shape, or form.

Elaine Beck 6:18
You know, I’ve seen some and heard some stories about situations where people give people a sign that they’re in, they’re in distress, are there something like that’s happening? And I believe that you put the four fingers together? I’m unaware of that. Okay. Yeah. Okay. I do know, and I’m saying this for the audience sake, that if you see somebody like in a car, and that’s the situation that I had seen, where somebody was in the car, and there’s somebody driving, and they are, they have kidnapped them. If you see somebody giving this motion, like they, you could look like you’re going to scratch yourself or something. But if you see this, they’re telling you they’re in distress. Okay. I want you to I want you to ask about that. I think that’s fascinating. I thought you would know that

Lt. Zach Young 7:14
you’re challenging me to go out and learn something. That’s always a good thing. It is.

Elaine Beck 7:19
It is. And that’s what we try and do in our show is, is bring out everything that we all need to know but I’m really curious, you said that the biggest thing that you deal with is the drug issue. The fentanyl current. And I know how bad fentanyl is. Because when I had fibromyalgia a doctor put me on fentanyl, right? And it is a horrific drug, even when it’s given in the right dose to not kill you. And so I’m just amazed. Tell me more about what humans do in that regard.

Lt. Zach Young 7:57
fentanyl at the time that fentanyl really started making its way into Oro Valley in the Pima County area. I was actually in a plainclothes unit I was a sergeant over a plainclothes unit at the time where we dealt with a lot of street level narcotic. axxerion Sure. It started coming on the scene in 2019. And we started seeing some overdose activity, some overdose death activity. And so we started working with DEA and a lot of in this in this realm, especially in Pima County, where we are a border County. You want to work together so we work collaboratively with the DEA with Homeland Security with the Tucson Police Department, Pima County Sheriff’s Department. So sure we started encountering it. We started working some joint ops and actually with the Arizona Department of Public Safety with their gang units, and it really started to come on scene we first we we had heard about counterfeit when they’re called in 30s. On the street, it’s counterfeit oxycodone in 30s. Okay, okay. And what it what it is it’s a counterfeit pill that looks stamped like a real pharmaceutical. But then when you test it, there’s no it’s not real pharmaceuticals. It’s cut with acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. And then it’ll have fentanyl, small amounts of fentanyl cut within the acetaminophen.

Elaine Beck 9:15
Right? So small amounts means death in a lot of cases, right? Yes. Wow. So what what happens and I’m very curious, because I know somebody that works in a local hospital. And I asked them if they get a lot of people coming in that have overdosed. And they said, No. So do you deal with it right there or how does that handled?

Lt. Zach Young 9:48
So our patrol, all of our patrol personnel are outfitted with a drug called Narcan? I don’t know if you’re familiar.

Elaine Beck 9:54
familiar with Narcan but I’m not sure if my my audiences

Lt. Zach Young 9:58
so basically what Narcan does is The counter counteracts the narcotic that’s active in their system that’s causing them to overdose. So, as the influx in about 2019 2020 of fentanyl really started hitting the streets heavily, we did initially have a pretty big spike. It did. I’m speaking for war valley, not for other agencies. But sure, we had a very, very big spike in our overdoses and our overdose deaths in and when I see overdose deaths, spikes, it’s still relatively low oro valleys a beautiful safe community.

Elaine Beck 10:30
And it really is I have to say.

Lt. Zach Young 10:33
the as time went on, it appears that a couple of things happen, that people started carrying Narcan with them. Patrol personnel, we got better trained, better equipped all that, but also tolerances to end users on the streets, their tolerance just started going up. So our overdose in Oro Valley, specifically, our overdose numbers have stabilized and have even gone down since that.

Elaine Beck 10:57
wow. Well, you know, that’s, that’s amazing to me. I know that there’s more and more deaths every year from from that horrible drug. And so I’m glad to hear that we’re in pretty much a safe zone compared to many others. But I know that in Tucson, they’re they deal with it a lot. Right. And the narcan I actually know the people that started that and everything. Okay, so I know that story well, and I’m grateful for it. I just hope that that doesn’t make people feel like they can’t like you said they carry it. I mean, you carry it so that if you take the wrong thing, you can just ingest some of that. And you’re okay, yeah, yep. Wow. Yeah, that’s scary to me.

Lt. Zach Young 11:49
Well, in part of it, there’s a several problems in play when it comes to the street level, narcotic use is that first off, you have a human being that’s underneath that drug addiction. And we We in law enforcement, we can never forget that that we’re still we’re dealing with a human being that has a severe addiction issue. It also creates other issues too, though, because they can’t hold down gainful employment. So it, it lends to spiking our crime rates to property crimes, shoplifting, and car break ins and all these different things that we encounter. So really, this epidemic impacts, impacts, the end user impacts our community. And that’s where police departments, local police departments really have to shoulder that burden, because it spikes our property crimes. sometimes violent crimes are real, violent crime rates in our valley are still exponentially low. However,

Elaine Beck 12:42
one is too many one is too many. Correct? Exactly. Yep. And you know, the thing that, you know, I’m amazed that too, is that it seems like it’s so true about drug addicts in general, in this day and age. I mean, they’re forever putting on TV, people who they call zombies. People who are so overdosed, that they’re totally dysfunctional, that they can lean against a wall. And that’s it, and just stay there and be or lay on the ground for days.

Lt. Zach Young 13:18
Yeah. And you see them in, I would argue, in every major metropolitan area in the United States, you see them everywhere. The it’s, it’s a it’s a tragedy, when you think about the impact. And then another thing that we’re dealing with now, too, is a poly drug use issue, which means these people are not just using fentanyl, they’re also using methamphetamine or they’re using cocaine. So you have people that are addicted to several different drug types. And do the math, you start putting a narcotic in with a stimulant with an amphetamine and, and the the impact on that person and the way that their brain processes things. It’s it’s tragic.

Elaine Beck 13:55
Right? Well, and you know, I’m gonna go back to something that you said, and I thought it was amazing that you have to remember there’s a human being there. I, I’m, I even go further. I’m a mom and a grandma and great grandma. And I don’t care how old that human being is, that somebody’s baby hurt somebody’s child, somebody’s father, maybe or a loved one of some kind. Maybe, you know, it could be the only person that this mother and father have in their life. It just breaks my heart, all of it. And I find it so troubling. That we are in a world where so many people think that that’s the where to turn. When that to me. It would be so much better to turn to Jesus. And that’s so sad to me that people are allowing the world old’s ways, and the evil that’s in this world to take over their lives. It saddens me deeply. So I’m so grateful for all that you guys do.

Lt. Zach Young 15:10
And we appreciate that.

Elaine Beck 15:12
And I was just telling Hollywood, Morris, do you know who I’m talking about? He works for an organization that goes around. And he goes and does favors and shows and stuff and pictures of people that were families that have lost a police officer in their life, a brother, a husband, or whatever, for all the police that get killed in our country.

Lt. Zach Young 15:43
Okay. And something else I need to research?

Elaine Beck 15:46
Yeah, yes. And he’s really wonderful. And, and we were just talking about, you know, how there’s so much many people that should be respected. And how when I was a child, you know, everything was about the police officer, and that was our protection. And, and now you’re busy protecting people from themselves? And that’s scary. Yeah. You know,

Lt. Zach Young 16:15
yeah. And, you know, along along with that, protecting people from themselves, and I would say, this problem that I’m gonna speak of, is something that got exacerbated during COVID is the mental health crisis that we have it’s, it’s really sad. People are lost, people are hurting. They’re looking to things like drugs and alcohol, to try to mask their mental health issues of depression, anxiety, all these different things. And you see that as a society that we’re just hurting, we’re lost, and we’re empty. And we’re looking towards these types of things. And then, of course, you see crime rates, and you see, you know, drug addiction, and all these other things correlate with that,

Elaine Beck 16:52
right. And, you know, there are bad people in everything. And there are people that will take advantage of anything because they’re lazy or whatever. But when I was a younger mom, and I, my church, we go, right here in Tucson, down to the Salvation Army, we all took turns at different churches, and we cooked and made food for the homeless people in our town, and other people would go down then and serve it. And I remember being part of that. And I remember getting so upset when I heard a newsman say that they were tracking homeless people, because they were people on the corners that were collecting money that didn’t deserve it and didn’t need it. And I thought to myself, have you ever stood there and handed a sandwich to somebody who was afraid to even put their hand out? Or somebody who was shaking so bad that they couldn’t grab it? Right? Those people aren’t necessarily all on drugs, people need to understand some of these people were born this way. There’s the mentally ill, or thrown out years ago out of institutions, and they were closed. And we’ve never corrected that. If you have anybody in your family, or anybody of your friends that have somebody in their family at all, that has any kind of a mental issue, you need to understand that you they’ve got help. What about the ones that don’t have any family or have been rejected and hated, or looked upon as evil instead of understanding that they have a mental issue? Right? Thank you for bringing that up. I just think that is so powerful. And, and you know, to think that you guys deal with so much, I just can’t thank you enough. And I’m sure that my listeners are going to feel the same way. And, and, you know, we all need, we have so many problems in this world. But we can’t overlook those that are unable to take care of themselves for what ever the reason is, and even if somebody’s on drugs, does that mean we’re going to starve them or you shouldn’t give to them when they’re on the street corner? You know, I’ll tell you as a Christian, I have a viewpoint. And it’s this. If I do anything for anybody. I will answer for what I do or don’t do, right? If I give somebody $5 on a corner, and they take it and spend it on drugs, I don’t pay for that. I don’t answer for that to God someday. That person does right. And God even forgives them. If you recall. When he was on the cross, he said forgive them for they know not what they do. Well, I believe that somebody who’s fried their brain unintentionally started out that way. And there but for the grace of God go I. So I think in that we will close the show. And thank you so much for joining us. And I just really appreciate all the work all of everybody does. And I look forward to seeing you again, some sounds good. Thank you so much. And as for all of you, you know, I pray for you all the time, you know that our show you can go to and see all of them. There’s so much to talk about in this world, that this young man his last name is Young. By the way. This young officer is one of the best reasons for all of us to do our part, because he doesn’t just help us we should help him. So we’ll end that and say God bless you. See you next time.

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