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Contrary to Pilot writer, potheads are not ‘relatively harmless’

This letter is in response to the (Nov. 27) commentary  written by Pilot copy editor Evelyn Cook, in which she expressed her support of a suggestion that Curry County sell confiscated marijuana to authorized medical marijuana users in order to fund local law enforcement.

Mrs. Cook then goes on to expound about what she feels is a far more serious problem — methamphetamine abuse — being ignored in her town of residence, Crescent City.  While, as a law enforcement administrator, I would certainly agree that innovative ways to supplement our agency budgets is desperately needed, I find the suggestion that Curry County law enforcement generate revenue by selling pot is truly  outrageous for a number of reasons. 

Nevertheless, I have little influence as to what transpires outside my jurisdiction, especially across the California border, and therefore I will not attempt to comment on that issue herein. 

I do however feel compelled to clarify several misrepresentations and inaccuracies made by Mrs. Cook concerning issues related to the Crescent City Police Department (CCPD), of which I head.

In her article, Mrs. Cook all but alleged in Crescent City that the CCPD is ignoring meth producers and dealers in favor of concentrating our efforts on pot growers and sellers, because it is far more lucrative for our agency. She then goes on to report on the countless number of drug deals she has observed on the streets of Crescent City including those related to a particular individual that stands on a “busy corner” of the city daily.  Of most concern to me was that Mrs. Cook alleges she has called local government officials, including the CCPD, to report these issues, and got no response. 

In light of the fact that I take all complaints regarding the service my department provides very seriously, after reading Mrs. Cook’s article, I proceeded to research her allegations. I was unable to locate any form of contact from her.  As such, I took the next logical step and telephoned Mrs. Cook personally to speak with her concerning the matter. 

Although it was apparent Mrs. Cook was very busy, I appreciated that she took a brief moment out of her day to speak with me.  

Mrs. Cook’s article contained several inaccuracies as they pertained to the CCPD which I feel must be brought to light. Specifically, my agency receives absolutely no state or federal monies for marijuana eradication, nor for methamphetamine interdiction. The funding for all drug investigations in my jurisdiction comes directly out of my limited departmental budget. 

It is my belief the men and women of the CCPD work extremely hard in their efforts 24/7 in order to combat not only all criminal offenses, but the drug epidemic that plagues our local area and communities nationwide.  Their job is dangerous, difficult, and often without reward. 

Nonetheless, in our efforts to combat the fight against all drugs, we have been able to save local taxpayers considerable amounts of money by seeking private foundation donations and grants.  As a result of these funds, we currently have two K-9 units which are routinely utilized in locating illegal drugs in vehicles and residences. 

In addition, we have implemented several new and innovative programs such as the “Dogs Detecting Drugs Discreetly Program,” and the “Crime Free Multi-Housing Program” which assist our local residents with the tools necessary to ensure they live in a drug free environment.  Most recently the CCPD participated in the “Take Back Program” whereby we collected unused prescription drugs in order to keep them out of the hands of our youth.  We also participate in the annual drug and alcohol summit, as well as addressing issues related to drug abuse through public service announcements and specialized programs such as the “G.R.E.A.T.” curriculum that is taught in our local schools.

Personally, in my opinion, the CCPD is comprised entirely of those “community-oriented folks… who want to see things get better and are willing to do whatever it takes” as referenced by Mrs. Cook in her article.  So for Mrs. Cook to insinuate that the CCPD is somehow ignoring local drug issues is simply false, unwarranted and misleading.

Unexpectedly, I found I agree with Mrs. Cook concerning one issue, that being that the public plays a major role in fixing the problems we are currently facing.  Law enforcement cannot combat these issues alone. To that end, I would encourage anyone with knowledge of illegal activity in their community to contact local law enforcement to pass on the information. This includes speaking to the respective department administrator if necessary.  I can only speak for my department, but I have always embraced an open door policy and can be easily contacted by telephone and e-mail, in addition to in-person meetings via my bi-monthly “Chatting with the Chief” opportunities. 

I further noted in her article that Mrs. Cook states that she is willing to do “whatever” she could as a citizen to help law enforcement. I might suggest she, and anyone else that is interested, participate in our “Ride-along” program to see first hand what our officers do on a daily basis to fight drugs in our town. I would also welcome her and others to sign up to become a police department volunteer, as I can certainly use the extra help.

Also, I would like to comment on what I believe is one final general inaccuracy: 

Mrs. Cook’s assertion that “potheads are relatively harmless” compared to meth users.  Any individual under the influence of a drug – whether illegal, medically prescribed, or over the counter – to the extent that their mental judgment and physical abilities is impaired, is certainly not harmless, especially when it comes to the potential consequences that may result from their intentional or unintentional actions. 

In closing, let me make it clear, my officers are sworn to uphold the law. We investigate any and all information related to all illegal activities that transpire in our jurisdiction including those concerning illegal drugs, without regard to the type of drug involved. Whether the abusers drug of choice is marijuana, meth, or alcohol, illegal use of these substances is a criminal offense, which should not be tolerated in our communities. 

I assure your readers; it is not and will not be tolerated in the jurisdiction of the CCPD.

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