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Tomorrow will be better, drug czar Melton promises

[1/10/03]JACKSON New Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics director Frank Melton gave his bottom line about the state’s fight against drugs Thursday to a group of business people from across the state.

“The only promise I shall make to you is this: I promise you tomorrow will be much better than today,” Melton told about 275 people at Dennery’s Restaurant in Jackson for the Mississippi Economic Council’s, “A Capital Day.”

The annual event gives business owners and others an opportunity to meet with legislators in the first week of the legislative session.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove also spoke before heading to the Capitol to give his State of the State address.

Melton, a television executive known for broadcast editorials critical of public officials for inaction, was tapped by Musgrove in December to head the state agency charged with enforcing drug laws. Melton outlined his plans for the fight against drugs in Jackson and the state, citing a hotel room bust three weeks ago that resulted in the seizure of 600 pounds of marijuana.

“Mr. Untouchable is about to be touched,” said Melton, who still awaits Senate confirmation. “It’s going to shock many of you, but it’s time to bring this stuff to a conclusion.”

Betty Bilbo, a human resources manager for Hattiesburg-based Tal-Port Industries, LLC, volunteers for a jail ministry in her hometown of Poplarville. She said she was impressed with Melton’s plans.

“I look forward to him doing something that has been needed,” she said. “The drug problem is everywhere and I hope he does a good job.”

Melton said the agency would not use profiling as a way to pursue the fight against drugs.

“We’re going to look at everybody,” he said. “Because I don’t believe in profiling, and the only way to get around profiling is to look at everybody.”

Melton said results will matter, image will not.

“We can’t win this war if we’re worried about what people think, or what people are going to write, or what people are going to say,” he said. “We’re going to do what’s right without regards to politics, without regards to race and without regards to any outside influences.”

Melton said MBN’s prevention role is also crucial.

“Ninety-seven percent of our kids in this state are great kids and we’re going to do everything within our power to protect those kids,” he said. “I believe in building on the island of strength and our youth represent that island. We will deal in no uncertain terms with the other 3 percent.”

Before accepting the post, Melton was chief executive officer at WLBT in Jackson.