Skyline Drug Task Force touts new online tool to combat illicit drug sales

Law enforcement officials from across the region gathered in Waynesboro Thursday to talk up, an online reporting tool being used to combat illicit drug sales.

The website is a public service of the Skyline Drug Task Force, which includes representatives of the Virginia State Police, police departments in Staunton and Waynesboro, and sheriff’s offices in Augusta County and Nelson County.

All tips provided through the website are anonymous, akin to the methodology behind CrimeStoppers, according to Waynesboro Police Chief Michael Wilhelm.

“We don’t require them to provide us with any information. Of course, if they do want to provide us with information, we’ll follow up with that. But, it’s just like CrimeStoppers. It’s 100 percent anonymous, and we’re not trying to track the person down to obtain additional information on them,” said Wilhelm, whose department is working with Greater Augusta Prevention Partners to spearhead the effort.

A soft launch of the website last year “yielded an unexpectedly high volume of community input,” said Keith Keesee, the captain of Bureau of Criminal Investigation in the Appomattox Field Office of the Virginia State Police.

As tips started to roll in, the Task Force came to realize that the online reporting tool could provide “a valuable technological tool to leverage against the growing drug threat,” Keesee said.

Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith cited the positive early response as prompting Task Force members to get to work behind the scenes to build something that could serve the wider region.

“All the IT departments got together in the different jurisdictions to make sure that we could separate the information coming in, that we could see it and determine whether the Task Force needs to work on it, or whether it needs to go back to the individual agencies,” Smith said.

There are safeguards in place to ensure that people don’t use the anonymity of the web to harass neighbors.

“We deal with that fairly often,” Staunton Police Chief Jim Williams said. “There’s a reason that, legally, just because somebody calls in and says, my neighbor is dealing drugs, we don’t get a search warrant and barge in. We’re actually pretty proficient in figuring out when people are doing exactly that, harassing their neighbors. It’s one piece of a puzzle in a case.”

The piece in the puzzle can be key to allow law enforcement to connect the dots.

“Tips are huge,” Williams said. “When you’re putting a drug case together, it’s like a puzzle. I can tell you many times over my law enforcement career, you just need that last piece. Sometimes that’s an anonymous tip. And sometimes we’ve had tips that totally come out of the blue, where you’ve never heard of this person before, and then investigative techniques follow through, and you make a significant case. So, they’re huge. We need to hear from the public, and this is just one more way for us to hear from the public.”

Nelson County Sheriff David Hill stressed that point – on collaboration with the public.

“One thing that I like to tell our community in Nelson County is, law enforcement officers and agencies as a whole can only be as strong as the community allows us to be,” Hill said. “With this initiative, and getting that out there, in the technological world that we live in, it allows people to get that information to us without speaking face-to-face or by phone. So, there’s somewhat of a disconnect, but we’re still connected. That’s one of the positives of it.”

Keesee said it is his hope that “members of the community will utilize this program to help in our continued efforts” to combat drug-related crimes.

“A community working together with police authorities to combat illegal drug-related crimes is not only helpful, but in many cases, in our realm of work, is necessary to accomplishing our mission,” Keesee said.

Community forum to tackle drug trade

taking back our communityThe Skyline Drug Task Force presents Taking Back Our Community, a regional forum for parents and community members.

The event is set for Monday, Aug. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Waynesboro High School auditorium.

The event is free and open to the public.

The forum will examine how the narcotics trade is negatively impacting the local community, schools and the youth population.

Attendees will learn about emerging drug threats, and how to protect their families.

For more information, call (540) 332-3806, or go online to

Drug Take Back Day

drug take back dayDRUG TAKE BACK DAY Saturday, April 30 10 am – 2*pm *or until capacity maximized 70% of all people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or relatives


  • WALMART – WAYNESBORO – PARKING LOT (south end near Sonic)
  • AUGUSTA HEALTH STAUNTON URGENT CARE (Fisher parking lot to the left)
  • AUGUSTA HEALTH FAMILY PRACTICE, VERONA (Parking lot: corner of Green Hills Drive and Rt. 11)

Safely dispose of your unused & expired medicines

Bring your prescription, over-the-counter & pet medicines Leave medicines in original containers

Remove or mark out label information No needles or sharps accepted

Drive throughDrop off No questions asked

More information: 540-332-3806 (M-F, 8-5:00)

Beer mile story celebrates irresponsible drinking

The Greater Augusta Prevention Partners is a community coalition whose mission to prevent substance abuse among youth. As a coalition member, I read your Feb. 8 article “Staunton man loses bet, agrees to beer mile” with disgust. Why do we glorify such foolish and unhealthy behavior by putting such an article on the front page of the paper?

The article has an almost comical tone to two friends playing a bet with “laughter, banter and of course hardcore picking on …” It was “all in good fun.” This article isn’t a comical tale but a depiction of foolishness and unhealthy choices. The end goal of this “beer mile” is to intentionally get someone drunk, make them vomit, and humiliate them in the process. I would not say this is comical but downright stupid. Is such a tale newsworthy?

This article is detrimental to efforts to curb underage drinking and encourage responsible drinking by adults. This article celebrates irresponsible drinking and depicts drunkenness with friends as “all in good fun.” To go further, the article doesn’t just celebrate drunkenness but provides detailed instructions on how to do a “beer mile” and provides a website for additional information. No one would think it acceptable to write an article celebrating the use of heroin and provide instructions how to make or get this drug. Why in this community do we think that celebrating drunkenness and providing instructions on how to get drunk and humiliate your friends is acceptable?

To combat such irresponsible reporting, a roundtable event for youth will be held for all middle and high school students and their families on March 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fort Defiance High School. The event is sponsored by the Greater Augusta Prevention Partners Coalition. The event will include fun competitive games between youth from area high schools. Guest speaker Kristi Cousins from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) will be the highlight of the day.

Letter to the editor from Joy Stultz, Staunton

WHSV: The Time Is Now to Talk to Your Kids About Underage Drinking


As Valley kids go back to school, it’s the perfect time to talk with your kids about underage drinking.

View the full report online now.

News Virginian: Town hall meeting focuses on underage drinking

Community members from various backgrounds and professions gathered on Thursday evening to meet and discuss a common goal: to learn about and deter underage drinking.

Read the full story online here.

Augusta Free Press: Town hall meeting in Augusta County discusses impact of underage drinking

Augusta Free Press editor Chris Graham was on hand August 20 for our Town Hall meeting in Fishersville to discuss underage drinking.

Read AFP’s report online here.

WHSV: Town Hall discussion to focus on underage drinking


WHSV-TV3 highlighted the Greater Augusta Prevention Partners town hall meeting on underage drinking in their noon newscast today.

Read the full report online now.

WKDW: Morning show interview on town hall meeting

Greater Augusta Prevention Partners Coalition Coordinator Keri Jones joined WKDW Morning Show Host Kris Neil Losh to talk about tonight’s town hall meeting and the Let’s be the Influence campaign.

Staunton City Council issues proclamation for Underage Drinking Prevention Month


The Greater Augusta Prevention Partners received a proclamation from the Staunton City Council on August 13 in recognition of Underage Drinking Prevention Month. The Let’s be the Influence campaign was launched by GAPP on August 1.