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Police Clamping Down on Drug Dealers

Police Clamping Down on Drug Dealers



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Kimberly Houk ReportingSalt Lake City police have served a record number of search warrants this year.

Salt Lake City police are changing their tactics instead of focusing so much on large drug trafficking cases -- they are going neighborhood to neighborhood to attack the problem at the grass roots.

So far they've served 147 warrants on drug homes this year, but they say that's not indicative of city's drug problem.

Lt. Kevin Taylor, Drug Enforcement Agency: “You know I always kind of hated the term, ‘The War on Drugs’. Because when you have a war usually someone wins and someone loses. I don’t think we’re ever going to win it.”

But what Kevin Taylor is trying to do is maintain it by keeping Salt Lake City as safe as possible. He is a member of the Metro Drug Task Force and a federal officer, responsible for following drugs across county and state boundaries. This agency works hand in hand with local law enforcement.

Sgt. Ryan Atack, Salt Lake City Police Dept.: “Our squad doesn’t necessarily do long term investigations, like a year long or three years long. We usually do one or two months, and then we take the person down.”

This is how the agencies split the case load, and it's what allows Salt Lake City police to stay focused on just their neighborhoods. Just last week officers busted their 147th drug house this year. This one was located on Pueblo Street, where a man was caught selling both meth and cocaine.

Lt. Kevin Taylor: “The worst thing that can happen to you is to have a bad neighbor, and the worst bad neighbor you can have is a drug dealer."

You can see from the statistics how aggressive Salt Lake City police are getting. In 2001 police served 47 search warrants. They say in that year most of their resources were tied to Olympic Security planning. A year later 83 search warrants were written.

In 2003 you start to see a major increase with 132 warrants issued. This year the number is already at 147, and climbing.

Sgt. Ryan Atack: “We're so swamped right now."

Squads are strapped by funding and a constant repeat offender problem. Right now, there are nine officers total that are dedicated to the drug problems in Salt Lake City. In working with the Task Force, local officers hope put a dent in the drug problem by curbing the desire for them.

Lt. Kevin Taylor: “If there is a drug that I see that’s slightly on the rise, it’s heroine in this valley.”

Police say one way to clamp down on repeat offenders is to get them in treatment programs that will hold them long enough to reform them. Right now, there's not enough funding to make enough of those resources available.

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