Governor Asa Hutchinson has named a new state drug czar. On Wednesday Hutchinson announced that Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane would assume the role of State Drug Director. Lane succeeds Denny Altes who resigned in May.
In a press release, Hutchinson says Lane’s background with the FBI and law enforcement “equipped him well to serve in the role.”
The Arkansas drug director, works within the Department of Human Services to chair the Arkansas Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coordinating Council. The director oversees alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs throughout the state. That includes school-based drug awareness, prevention and education programs and disbursing federal money meant for drug abuse prevention and treatment.
Lane has served as Benton Police Chief since 2009. Before that he spent 20 years in the Pulaski County Sherriff’s office.
One issue the new drug director will have to deal with is the prescription opioid epidemic. On Monday, Arkansas Department of Health officials told a legislative committee that 384 Arkansans died of prescription opioid abuse in 2016.