DRUG SQUAD PITCHED FOR TOWN
Growing Problem Requires 'More Concerted Effort,' Leamington Officer Says
LEAMINGTON - Leamington police are considering setting up a special team of officers to deal with the growing drug problem in town.
"We need to take a strong approach to deter offenders," said Staff Sgt. Edward Marocko. "We need to make a more concerted effort."
Leamington police last year laid about 73 per cent fewer drug charges than in 2006. But Marocko said that doesn't mean there are fewer drugs on the street. "We're just not doing an effective job catching them."
Part of the problem is the change in the drugs of choice, Marocko said. While marijuana, with its pungent odour, was easier for officers to detect, cocaine and its derivatives are easier for offenders to conceal.
"It's hard for a general patrol constable to make seizures."
Marocko was asked by Chief Dean Gow to study the problem and come up with an enforcement plan. Concluding the force doesn't need more officers but needs only to use existing staff more effectively, Marocko suggests creating a special drug team by redeploying four officers -- two from the patrol ranks and two from the criminal investigations branch.
"More policing is not necessarily better. It's smarter policing that solves community problems," Marocko said.
Drugs create spinoff crimes like break-ins and thefts. These "quick-money crimes" are plaguing the town and prove that "drugs are not a victimless crime."
Drug offences, especially those for hard drugs like crack cocaine, are on the rise nationally, according to a Statistics Canada report released last week.
"We're dealing with the same issues that many, many, many other communities are dealing with," Marocko said.
He said Leamington police are increasingly arresting traffickers from other parts of the province. Leamington police want to make the town as inhospitable to them as possible, Marocko said.
"This is a good community.... We want to keep it that way."
Fri, 25 Jul 2008
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)