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Small Department Drug Interdiction


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  • Small Department Drug Interdiction

    Not sure if this has been covered in another thread so if it has, I apologize...

    I work for a very small department, 9 full-time officers including our Chief who doesn't patrol. Our city is small, under 6,000 residents, but we have a lot of drug activity for our size. Most of our officers are young and like to hit traffic hard and try to get into as much as we can. We do have a K9 but he's midnight shift and works five eight-hour shifts so we don't have him as much as we'd like, especially for me since I'm on afternoon shift. We aren't the wealthiest department either and since COVID hit, our council has us on a strict budget, as many departments are now.

    With all of the factors involved, we still manage to get a lot of drug busts and hit a lot of search warrants. A big problem we're having most recently is none of our arrests end up with a CI or anyone willing to work with us at all. We've always had great luck with getting someone to work with us after they get pinched but now that we've run out of them, it's become very hard to get any leads or good evidence for search warrants.

    My question is, do you guys have any tips or ideas of what a smaller department like mine can do for better drug interdiction? We have little to no gear to use (wires i.e.), and no funds to get the high-dollar stuff. We are a very busy department and more often than not, my shift is going from call to call all day. I actually sit on suspected drug houses on my days off in my personal car just to try and get ahead of the drug problem we have but I can't always do that.

    Let me know, thanks

  • #2
    For obvious reasons, I'm not going to get into tactics on a public message board. However, I can recommend two things:

    First, cultivate public contacts. I've worked "small town" LE my entire career and, more often than not, there are neighbors of these drug houses that are fed up with it. Use them as your informants. Tell them to jot down vehicle descriptions, license plate numbers, suspect descriptions, times/dates...let them be your eyes and ears when you're tied up on other calls.

    You administration can discuss a mutil-agency/multi-jurisdictional drug task force, that way you can spread the cost between several agencies and everybody can use it to address their drug problems. Drugs don't stop at a city corp limits and the people your deputies, state police, or adjoining cities/villages are dealing with are frequently the same ones you're dealing with.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche


    • #3
      My last dept had only 2 on per shift and a lot of meth and crack to deal with. The SO and state units in the area always had something to pass along and were always willing to help. The SO had a lot more resources and reach than us.

      Idk what state you're in but in mine the state poĺice have a drug task force with a contact in each county. Usually these guys have their eyes on the same houses you do.
      Last edited by Saluki89; 09-03-2020, 12:32 PM.


      • #4
        Look at local and regional resources.


        • #5
          To the OP: First thing you must do is stop trying to conduct surveillance, or any other kind of enforcement activity, on your off-duty time. Next, abandon any thoughts you may be having about making any big changes in your community; the same crap has been ongoing forever and will still be going on long after you are long gone.

          A department with 9 sworn personnel, including the chief, can just barely field 2 officers per shift, and not even that all the time. 24 hours per day, 7 days per week equals 168 hours, so it takes 4.2 officers for staffing one person on each shift (add in sick leave, vacation time, mandatory training requirements, etc, and it actually comes out closer to 5 FTE's for one officer assigned 24/7). Drugs and drug trafficking are a pervasive problem everywhere in North America, but not the only problem that a police department has to deal with.

          I was a small town chief for nearly 7 years (national average tenure for a chief is about 2.5 years). I have had employees who were gung ho go-getters with tunnel vision for one thing (usually drug enforcement). More than one had to be coached repeatedly on maintaining a broader focus and providing a full menu of services to the community, not just what that individual wanted to concentrate on.

          You want to contribute toward effectively dealing with the problems you describe? Fine, become the intelligence source. Collect all the information you can develop (without ignoring other duties), collate that information in a usable manner, identify relationships and known associates, vehicles involved, dates, times, patterns of activity. Dull, dreary, paperwork intensive POLICE WORK that results in data that can be shared with county, state, and federal officers or task forces that have the personnel, budget, and time to follow up properly. Undoubtedly you will identify names, vehicles, addresses, business entities and other connection beyond your local community that could be very helpful in dealing with the REAL SOURCES, not just some local stumble-bum dealing dime bags to his loser buddies.

          It isn't all about snapping the cuffs on a punk kid or two. It certainly isn't all about being the hero cop making a bust now and then. If you really want to make a difference you will have to work on developing the larger picture and contributing a little bit at the right times.

          If you follow this advice you will need to understand one more thing, and that is to keep your mouth shut about what you are doing. Sure, you can let other cops know that you are collecting intelligence, but share it only with those having a legitimate need to know what you have developed.

          End of lecture.


          • #6
            Holy crap. I missed the last part about you staking out places in a POV on your off time. I assume that you are an hourly employee, correct? You are creating all kinds of potential problems for you, your chief and the city. Have you asked your chief what he would like to see you do?


            • #7
              I wouldn't surveil drug dealers on my days off, especially in my personal vehicle.

              I've been trying to do basically what retired1995 said. Other "tactics" I've used at other departments before, have been ineffective or not a safe option in my opinion where I'm at now.


              Their surveiling you and your department! I bet everytime you start watching them the traffic dies down and you see someone with a cell phone to their ear.

              The last department I worked for was in a town of 3,000 and we had a minimum of 2 on a shift and about twice as many officers. Sometimes we needed 3 on shift! Hard to imagine y'all handling a population like that with that many officers.
              Last edited by westside popo; 09-04-2020, 12:25 PM.


              • #8
                Do what retired said. Exactly how he said it.
                Now go home and get your shine box!


                • #9
                  All is pretty much covered above. Nine officers for 6,000 residents seems kind of low. They probably don’t want you out of service too long concentrating on probably low level drug arrests. They can refer that stuff to the county, state, or feds.

                  And Bro, get that info off your profile post haste.
                  I’ll die with blue in my veins.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the input, all of you. I appreciate everything I can get whether negative or positive, I take it constructively.

                    You're right, it's a huge pain to get shifts covered, and too often there is only a single officer on per shift, like this very moment. I don't do the off-duty stuff very often but when I can I try to. It's all approved by my Chief and we talk about what needs to done before I go out. It's almost a tradition at my department to put in some volunteer time, all of the senior guys had done it before they were promoted or started their families. We have somewhat of an "unwritten" policy on what we can do, and quite simply we are just eyes on the road and that's all we're allowed to do. My volunteer time is coming to an end as I'm starting a family myself.
                    I do communicate with our local SO and task force and they contact me from time to time as well. I don't have the typical idea of "making a difference" or putting a stop to the world's drug issue. I'm well aware that it will always be there and someone like me won't be able to even touch it. All the extra hours I put in are in a way to help put our small town at ease a bit. I'm fortunate enough to work in a city that (for the most part) appreciates us and wants to see us grow and succeed. They see the work that my guys and I put in and they love it. We get told all the time that they see us on the streets in our free time instead of sitting at our desks.
                    Again, I greatly appreciate all of your input. I've only been on for a few years and welcome the help and advice from anyone who knows what they're talking about. My department does have a training fund set aside and we are constantly going through new training courses. Does anyone have some good training courses that they've gone through or know of any that would be helpful for drug enforcement? I'm in NE Ohio.


                    • #11
                      Every time you sit somewhere watching them, they are watching you. They know who you are, what you drive, when you work, where you live, who you are with...and their names.

                      Stop. This ain’t 1950s New York. That guy you screwed with has the backing of somebody that doesn’t care about cops.
                      Now go home and get your shine box!


                      • #12
                        Your small department has only so many fingers to stick in the holes in the dyke so all y'all can do is be as proactive as y'all reasonably can.

                        We had one officer on the shift before mine, and when I'd come in, he would be doing the arrest paperwork on subject(s) he had arrested for narcotics possession on most occasions. We always had to transport, AND we knew we'd probably get a few thefts or burglaries in his district because he only patrolled the hotspots for drug arrests. You have to worry about your entire district, but there is no problem being visible in the busier areas.

                        We know illegal narcotics fuels many of the thefts and burglaries so they do both go hand in hand. It is a noble cause to try to juggle this mess, but the poop sandwich y'all have been served was there before you, is there now and will be there after you leave. Do as the others say by trying to get other agencies to assist, be it the county, the state or the feds.

                        But please please please don't be running around in your family POV staking out the bad guys. My partner and I were on a stakeout of a drug house one night while on bike patrol, and we thought were weren't visible to them. Time went by, and they exited the house with long weapons coming toward us. They split in a military type move, attempting to surround us. I didn't see any of this because my partner had the night vision so he had to whisper to me everything he was seeing. It got to the point we had to run for our lives, and when we did, they took shots at us. My partner gave the order to run, and it was a good thing since we only out our pistols and they had long weapons. So my point to this anecdote is that you may think you are being safe doing surveillance in your POV, but it is possible you may get busted by counter surveillance like we did that night. It isn't safe or worth it!


                        • #13
                          If nothing else, for the love of God STOP using your own vehicle to do any form of police work whatsoever

                          You are placing a massive target on that vehicle and anyone who happens to be in it at the time (like say, your family and children)

                          The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

                          "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

                          "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LA DEP View Post
                            If nothing else, for the love of God STOP using your own vehicle to do any form of police work whatsoever

                            You are placing a massive target on that vehicle and anyone who happens to be in it at the time (like say, your family and children)
                            Not to mention your insurance almost certainly doesn't cover you if you're using your personal vehicle for work purposes.
                            "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
                            -Friedrich Nietzsche


                            • LA DEP
                              LA DEP commented
                              Editing a comment
                              ^^^^^ Bingo

                          • #15
                            Try reaching out to the feds...HSI or DEA would be my suggestion. If you think there is any border nexus (and with drugs there usually is) your local HSI might be interested. 


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