Beattyville, KY — For years, Beattyville police officer Eddie Dunahoo made a living by kidnapping and caging people for possessing or ingesting arbitrary substances deemed illegal by the state. Like hundreds of thousands of other cops, Dunahoo's job consisted of chasing down, kicking in doors, and ruining the lives of people caught with these substances — all the while thinking he was a hero for doing so. Unlike those other cops, however, Dunahoo had a wake up call, and now, instead of ruining their lives, Dunahoo helps people with drug problems.
In a recent interview with WKYT, Dunahoo explained how he was part of a futile cycle of enforcing prohibition with violence or the threat of and it never changed a thing. In fact, as the current overdose epidemic illustrates, the war on drugs has led the the worst drug crisis the US has ever seen.
“You see a whole lot of very sad things, people in addiction, usually at a very low point in their life, arresting the same people over and over again a lot,” Dunahoo told the news outlet.
Dunahoo explained that he never thought about the fact that he was repeatedly arresting the same people and yet they weren't getting any better. He attributed this thought process of believing a drug addiction problem can be solved with the barrel of a gun to his own closed mind.
“At that point, I thought a whole lot of, ‘why can’t these people change?’ I was close-minded,” he said.
While he was still kidnapping and caging people for drugs, Dunahoo went with a friend to an Addiction Recovery Care (ARC) and he had an awakening. It was at this point that he started realizing the war on drugs does nothing to help anyone except for cartels, the police state, and the prison industrial complex.
“I had a friend that worked for Operation Unite and she did site visits a lot,” Dunahoo said. “I went to multiple ARC facilities touring with them, then I came to Carpenter’s Village.”
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After he visited a campsite in Booneville, KY, where men gathered to fight through their drug problems together — without police ruining their lives — Dunahoo knew it was time to quit his job as a cop and focus on truly helping those in need.
“They’re just getting their mind clear, the fog’s kind of going away from the drugs,” Dunahoo said. “We get to see when the light kind of comes on, as I like to say.”
The key to helping folks, according to Dunahoo, is not guns, handcuffs, or steal bars — it's love.
“Bringing the clients into this kind of atmosphere, they feel the love that we all have and we love them back to life,” Dunahoo said.
After he left the Beattyville police department to help people recover from drug addiction, he eventually made his way back into policing as a part-time deputy with the Owsley County Sheriff’s Department. But now, instead of kidnapping and caging people, he helps them — and, instead of running from him, drug addicts rely on him for help.
“Most people in addiction don’t want to talk to a police officer about it, but usually if I use tools that I’ve learned in ARC’s Recovery Connector class to tell them I’m trying to help them at that time, they usually come around,” Dunahoo said.
Telling reporters that there is no way to arrest your way out of an addiction problem, Dunahoo says love and freedom are the true tools to progress.
“It’s just amazing to see the transformation of these guys from day one,” Dunahoo said.