The irony of crime in Courthouse Park has not been lost on downtown beat officers. Increased patrols and police visibility in the area have been helpful but have not solved the problem of open air drug dealing and other low level offenses. Complaints from community members coupled with a desire to take another look at a chronic problem led to West Precinct commanders partnering with SPD Narcotics detectives for assistance.
Detectives and officers decided to conduct an operation typically referred to as a “buy and slide” with a target date of late 2012.
In these types of operations, drug dealers are identified but not immediately arrested. This means that multiple dealers can be identified during the operation. Not surprisingly, the imagery of police officers swooping in to arrest a dealer who just sold drugs to undercover officers typically has a chilling effect on other would-be entrepreneurs in the area. The idea is to identify as many dealers as possible and then attempt to arrest them at a later date.
Thus far, ten individuals have been identified and eight of them have been arrested. Detectives and officers are actively seeking the remaining two.
While only small amounts of crack cocaine were purchased from the street dealers, the overall strategy was to identify their source of supply. This remains a work in-progress.
Detectives believe that some of the cases will be drug court eligible. This is traditionally a good fit for low level offenders with an addiction problem since it will offer participants treatment services in lieu of jail. The obvious hope is that the right combination of drug treatment, counseling, and social services will enable a willing candidate to become productive members of society.
West Precinct Operations Lieutenant Deanna Nollette says, “Courthouse Park has long been on our radar. This operation is really just one piece of our enforcement strategy. Our ultimate goal is the continued safety of those who work at and visit our county courthouse.”
SPD Narcotics Lieutenant Michael Kebba states, “The Narcotics Unit will continue to partner and strategize with precinct commanders and community members in order to reduce the fear and dysfunction in neighborhoods challenged by an open air drug market.”
Do you have ongoing drug activity in your neighborhood? SPD Narcotics wants to hear about it. Call them directly at 206 684-5797 to voice your concerns. Callers may be anonymous. For drug related crime in progress, please call 911.