Operation Street Smart: The best training I have had as a mother


By Shelley Ratliff - PCCOA Executive Director



Learn what drug paraphernalia is, and how to spot the signs at Operation Street Smart.

Learn what drug paraphernalia is, and how to spot the signs at Operation Street Smart.


Did you know old electronics and cell phones can be associated with meth? Find out more at Operation Street Smart’s next workshop on Sept. 24.


The next Operation Street Smart is on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from noon-4 p.m., at The Grange on Nation Avenue in Eaton.

EATON — Before I get started, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am an only child, my parents are both still living and I grew up in Oxford and only live 10 miles from my childhood home. Currently I am the Executive Director at Preble County Council on Aging (PCCOA). I work full time and have quite an interesting story.

When I was growing up, drug paraphernalia was a little clip which held feathers. I don’t think I knew of anything else. By the time I had children I thought I knew what to look for when I looked in their rooms for drugs. Yes, a little clip with feathers. Boy, was I wrong.

I married my husband in 2004. I was divorced with two kids and he was a widower with two kids. His wife died in a car accident when his daughter was 10 and his son was 5. He had a son from a previous marriage but he never lived with us. We had two girls the same age, same grade, same friends, and two boys the same age, one grade apart. We were dysfunction at its best.

I always thought I was one step ahead of my kids. I knew my kids were using drugs but I just didn’t know what they were using and some of the common household items they used when they got high.

Allow me to introduce you to two of my kids. As a young boy, the oldest, was diagnosed with ADHD and was on Ritalyn. By the age of 10 he had his first pacemaker and by 27 years of age, he had his third. I’m not sure when he started using drugs but we began to have a rocky relationship with him. He had 2 sons by two different women. He would call only when he needed something, which was usually money. He would cuss us out one day and the next he would say how much he loved us.

The youngest daughter was in the top of her class, and she was a cheerleader. She was beautiful, went to Miami University, was responsible, and a great helper. I am not sure when it happened, or when I realized she was using drugs. She was dating a guy who used drugs, and then she started using. It was a rocky relationship, just like our son, and she also only called when she needed money. I knew she had a problem.

She admitted she was using and would go to rehab long enough to make me think she was doing better. She was stealing from me and my parents, selling at the pawn shops, and she was a great liar.

I am not exactly sure when this happened, sometime in the late fall, early winter, but God told me I would lose a child. I prepared myself to lose her. As an only child, I needed to take care of my parents and help them grieve the loss of their granddaughter.

Then in January, one Sunday night we got a call saying our son was admitted to the hospital. We waited about 18 hours before going to see him because honestly we didn’t know how sick he was because he was known to “shop” at the doctor’s office and hospitals for pain medication. We never saw him awake and he died the following Sunday. I didn’t expect to lose him. I had prepared myself for how I would deal with my daughter’s death and how could I could be strong for everyone.

My daughter continues to struggle with making better life choices for herself, and her child. She has her ups and downs but I worry every single day of my life about her and the choices she makes.

After attending Operation Street Smart, I now know the spoons in the bedrooms that looked burnt were used for heroin. The smell of vinegar wasn’t vinegar, it was heroin. The abundance of old cell phones and electronics had something to do with meth. Several knives and long tweezers were used in drug production. There were many more things that were right under my nose and I didn’t even realize it. This is the best training I have had as a mother to help me become more aware of things to look for where drugs are concerned.

The goal of Operation Street Smart is to provide current and up-to-date narcotics information on trends, terminology, paraphernalia, and physiological effects to those individuals who deal with today’s youth on a daily basis.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office created Operation Street Smart in July 2002 as a way to take community oriented policing to a new level. Street Smart is a collaborative effort between D.A.R.E. and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which is the Sheriff’s Office undercover narcotics branch.

The next Operation Street Smart is on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from noon-4 p.m., at The Grange on Nation Avenue. This event is free and open to the community, please RSVP to the PCCOA at 937-456-4947.

To stay up to date on all of our activities, trips and senior news sign up to receive our bi-monthly newsletter the “Senior Scene.” Membership at the Senior Center is $10 a year. In addition to other benefits, members automatically receive our bi-monthly “Senior Scene” newsletter which features all our latest news and activities, additional benefits are discounts on trips and select activities. Like our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/preblecountycouncilonaging/ or give us a call at 937-456-4947. Visit our fabulous new website at www.PrebleSeniorCenter.org.

Learn what drug paraphernalia is, and how to spot the signs at Operation Street Smart.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2019/08/web1_5-1.jpgLearn what drug paraphernalia is, and how to spot the signs at Operation Street Smart.

Did you know old electronics and cell phones can be associated with meth? Find out more at Operation Street Smart’s next workshop on Sept. 24.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2019/08/web1_8-1.jpgDid you know old electronics and cell phones can be associated with meth? Find out more at Operation Street Smart’s next workshop on Sept. 24.

By Shelley Ratliff

PCCOA Executive Director

The next Operation Street Smart is on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from noon-4 p.m., at The Grange on Nation Avenue in Eaton.