Our Opinion: Lawmen, pastors tackle the heroin epidemic together

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THUMBS UP to badges and clerical collars coming together Wednesday morning for the third annual Sheriff and Pastors Unity Breakfast.

Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard Jr. invited dozens of local faith leaders to the Wilson County Agriculture Center to provide tips on church security. The top lawman and Lt. Brad Carter also gave an overview of the heroin epidemic destroying lives in eastern North Carolina.

Addiction to opioid painkillers can lead people of all ages, income and backgrounds down a dark road that leads to broken relationships, a life of crime and overdosing on adulterated heroin, Carter explained.

As trusted spiritual advisers, pastors need to understand the risks of opioid and heroin abuse so they can offer resources and faith-based counseling to parishioners who confide in them about personal or family struggles.

The growing partnership between preachers and Wilson County deputies may help some users escape the cycle of addiction before it’s too late. We commend the sheriff’s office and the participating pastors for working together to confront the scourge of drug addiction.

THUMBS DOWN to SouthWest Edgecombe High School Principal Craig Harris, who withheld senior class president Marvin Wright’s diploma last Friday after Wright read his own commencement speech instead of one the school prepared for him.

“From what I learned in class, I feel like it violated the First Amendment,” Wright told Times reporter Drew C. Wilson. “I couldn’t say what I wanted to say and when I tried to say what I wanted to say, there was consequences.”

The school hasn’t explained why Wright’s speech was switched with a stripped-down rewrite. Times readers suggested the graduate thanking God might have inspired the substitution. Edgecombe County Schools Superintendent John Farrelly, who apologized to Wright and made sure he received his diploma the next day, told us “the content was not an issue.”

Wright handled the situation graciously, but said Harris has yet to offer an apology. The principal should break his silence, acknowledge his mistake and vow not to repeat it.

THUMBS UP to Jim DeMint, a former U.S. senator from South Carolina, for signing on as a senior adviser to the Convention of States Project. The nonprofit is working to secure resolutions from two-thirds of the 50 states to call for a convention where constitutional amendments could be proposed.

Organizers want to amend the Constitution to curb federal spending, enact congressional term limits and shift the balance of power from the federal government to the states and the people.

To date, 12 state legislatures have adopted resolutions calling for a Convention of the States. Our neighbors Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia are among them. Here in North Carolina, a bill to add the Tar Heel State to the list is stuck in the House Rules Committee after clearing the Senate in a 29-20 vote.

The Times endorses the Convention of States resolution and calls on House Speaker Tim Moore to advance the bill to a floor vote.