Decatur police ramp up drug enforcement
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.