De­catur po­lice ramp up drug en­force­ment

Westside Eagle-Observer - - NEWS - By Mike Eck­els meck­

DE­CATUR — “If you are think­ing about deal­ing or us­ing drugs in De­catur, think twice.” That is the mes­sage the De­catur Po­lice Depart­ment wants to send to all drug deal­ers, users and al­co­hol abusers with the depart­ment’s ramped up drug en­force­ment this past month.

Dur­ing the month of Au­gust, the De­catur Po­lice Depart­ment made sev­eral drug and al­co­hol-re­lated ar­rests, be­gin­ning with the Aug. 3 ar­rest of 44-year-old James Goo­ing of Gravette in con­nec­tion with the pos­ses­sion of 1.3 grams of mar­i­juana.

“This past month alone the guys made 40 ar­rests. Of that, 19 were drug-re­lated, either para­pher­na­lia or drugs them­selves,” said Joe Sav­age, De­catur Po­lice Chief. “Twelve ar­rests were for drug pos­ses­sion and re­sulted in a seizure of mar­i­juana. Seven ar­rests were for pos­ses­sion of drug para­pher­na­lia.”

In one ar­rest, De­catur po­lice took a gun and metham­phetamine off the street. An­other ar­rest re­sulted in the seizure of a small amount of co­caine.

“I’m not sure of the amount of co­caine they found, but I know my of­fi­cers have got­ten over three pounds of mar­i­juana off the street,” Sav­age said. “Be­tween Cor­po­ral Randy Dea­son, Of­fi­cer Lance Dixon, and Sergeant Ty Egge­brecht, th­ese De­catur of­fi­cers are work­ing nar­cotics ev­ery night, all night. They have re­ally im­pressed me with their style.”

Of those ar­rests, K9 Of­fi­cer Koda was fun­da­men­tally re­spon­si­ble for at least three. He made an ad­di­tional find for a county agency which called for backup.

In an in­ci­dent that oc­curred on Aug. 31 at around 11:25 p.m., Of­fi­cer Dixon, who was run­ning radar near the day­care cen­ter on Ar­kan­sas High­way 59, clocked 26-year-old Ter­ron Ross of Austin, Texas, driv­ing 53 mph in a 35 mph zone and ini­ti­ated a traf­fic stop at Third and Main Streets in De­catur. After is­su­ing a traf­fic ci­ta­tion, Dixon no­ticed the smell of mar­i­juana com­ing from the car, giv­ing him prob­a­ble cause to search the ve­hi­cle.

Egge­brecht and K9 Of­fi­cer Koda were called in to search the Ross’ ve­hi­cle. Koda alerted to drugs in the front seat, and Ross was ar­rested for mis­de­meanor pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance and pos­ses­sion of drug para­pher­na­lia, also a mis­de­meanor.

One area down in num­bers is traf­fic ci­ta­tions, some­thing that does not con­cern Sav­age too much.

“Our ci­ta­tion count came down a lit­tle be­cause the of­fi­cers are out there work­ing nar­cotics in­stead of traf­fic en­force­ment,” said Sav­age. “I would pre­fer drug ar­rests ev­ery day of the week in­stead of ci­ta­tions for speed­ing.”

But even more than drug en­force­ment, the De­catur Po­lice Depart­ment is ded­i­cated to keep­ing the com­mu­nity safe from an­other type of drug, al­co­hol. More peo­ple are killed in al­co­hol­re­lated ac­ci­dents through­out the coun­try ev­ery day. This is some­thing Sav­age’s depart­ment is work­ing just as hard to pre­vent.

“If you fac­tor in our ar­rests for al­co­hol-re­lated of­fenses like pub­lic in­tox­i­ca­tion, DWI, pos­ses­sion of drugs, and take all that into ac­count, th­ese guys are right at 52 per­cent,” Sav­age said.

At least half of the 40 ar­rests came from traf­fic stops, either speed­ing or reck­less driv­ing. Mem­bers of the De­catur po­lice depart­ment, like their coun­ter­parts across the coun­try, are highly trained to de­tect drugs by smell or by body lan­guage (slow speech, eye re­sponse). They can de­tect the scent of drugs or al­co­hol even over the smells of air fresh­en­ers, per­fumes and mouth­wash. Th­ese of­fi­cers have seen ev­ery trick that the pub­lic has tried to cover up its drug use.

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