9:02am

Thu August 25, 2011
The Commonwealth

Madisonville Drug Unit Triples Arrests

Madisonville Police Department’s Vice and Narcotic Squad has confiscated almost $190,000 worth of drugs in the first six months of its existence, said Police Chief Wade Williams. “That’s drugs that would have made it to the streets of Madisonville,” he said. The amount of illegal substances are not the only thing taken off the street.

“We’ve made almost triple the amount of drug arrests in the first six months of 2011,” Williams said, “as we did the entire year of 2010.”

Prior to the squad’s creation in February, MPD had one officer dedicated to narcotics for the last 10 years.

“Where we just had a narcotic position before, now we have a Vice and Narcotic Squad who work on violent crime work, narcotics and all these things that we find are associated with illegal narcotics,” Williams said.

Research indicates that, on average, 50 percent of inmates attribute drugs to the crime they have committed, he said.

“We’re finding a trend for us, that about 63 percent of all of our crime is drug related,” said Williams. “When I’m telling you that 63 percent are drug related, but I have less than two percent of my force working on drugs, it just didn’t make sense.”

After the creation of the unit, 25 percent of MPD man hours are dedicated to narcotics, he said.

“We intend to go higher as we go along,” said Williams. “We intend to expand this unit.”

Out-of-the-box ideas to apprehend drug dealers were welcomed by Williams when the squad formed.

“We basically said in (the) creation of this unit that nothing is off the table,” said Williams.

The unit pays informants for information and to buy drugs from suspected dealers, he said. Undercover officers are a part of the squad as well.

The squad emphasizes collecting and piecing together information gleaned from all contact with the public to make drug-related arrests.

“By not putting blinders on, where you’re only focusing on drugs,” said Williams, “it has opened the door for us to connect things to drugs.”

Any information residents can provide to the squad or through Crime Stoppers is appreciated by MPD, he said.

“We don’t write off any piece of information,” said Williams. “It may be that tip that we need that puts everything together for us.”

The Vice and Narcotic Squad focuses on anything that may lead to a drug arrest, including gang activity.

“Everybody starts somewhere with a small gang problem,” Williams said. “The first signs of those things that we have, our Vice and Narcotics unit does a great job of building intelligence on it.”

Williams favors a proactive approach when it comes to policing, which is one of the reasons a new position of crime analyst was created within the unit.

The crime analyst takes data from the squad and puts it into usable data for the the patrol officers, he said.

“We have resources that we are able to pull that information in and maybe make a link to other crimes and issues,” Williams said.

Reaching out to other policing agencies, in particular the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Department, has helped the squad with arrests, Williams said.

“We see this as, we’re all on the same team here,” said Williams. “And when we can share resources and share information good things come out of that.”