Bizarre traffic incident lands GI man in jail

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - A drug-related scene in Grand Island Friday leads to $6,500 worth of vehicle damages and a major traffic backup, bringing up the question of whether punishments for drug offenders are as effective as they should be.

Police said Salvador Gonzalez, 32, caused the incident. Police said he walked into the middle of Highway 30, jumped on top of a semi, and caused damage to several other vehicles.

Police said they believe Gonzalez was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the incident.

Capt. Jim Duering, Grand Island Police Department, said they've noticed drug offenders receiving less jail time in favor of community service. He said this is increasing police workload, and can cause disturbances like this one for the public.

"From a law enforcement perspective that means that recidivism offenders, we're dealing with them more often," Capt. Duering said. "Not necessarily more people committing the same crimes, but the same people having the opportunity to commit the crimes more often."

This incident occurred on west-bound Highway 30 near Stuhr Road in east Grand Island around 4:00 p.m. Friday.

Police said Gonzalez struck and damaged the hood of a Toyota Prius, then climbed the side of a stock trailer, and approached the semi driver screaming and making inappropriate comments. Authorities said he then climbed on top of the semi and jumped around, slid down the front of the semi damaging the antenna and then slid to the ground kicking the front of the semi.

Gonzalez was arrested on several counts of criminal mischief, disturbing the peace and pedestrian interfering with the flow of traffic.

Duering said police will keep investigating crimes like this to trace drugs back to the source, but more needs to be done outside of law enforcement.

"The health and mental health profession has to become involved at some point in time to treat the illness that's at the heart of a lot of the drug abuse issues," Duering said.

That's where organizations like Crossroads Center Rescue Mission come in.

They're a Christian-based organization in Hastings that offers services to people who need help getting back on their feet.

While they don't have their own drug treatment program, they do offer rehabilitation for people with alcohol and drug addiction. This includes a four-phase program that creates accountability and a support system.

"We can't fix people if they don't want help, and we're not out to do that," said Jerry Bumgardner, executive director at Crossroads.
But to give them an opportunity for us to come along side of them and say, "you have this option. You don't have to live on the street. You don't have to go to jail, but you do have to work a program. You can't just come and put your feet up.""

Bumgardner said the majority of people stay 60 days at their facility.

While Crossroads doesn't offer direct treatment programs, they do help people with drug addictions create a plan, and make sure they stick to that plan.

They'll connect people with mental health professionals in the community, and couple that with therapy and jobs at the center.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call Crossroads at 402-462-6460. They also accept walk-ins.

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