Lancaster targeting drug users and sellers

November 06, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - Something changed in the Lancaster police department about the time Wanda Shelton was named interim police chief.

Suddenly more drug-related arrests were being made.

"They're just focused more on high drug areas, and following up on the investigative end of it," said Sgt. Willie Skeens of the department's new focus to go after everyone from the user to the pusher.

Within the last two months, drug arrests in Lancaster have increased about 30 percent. In the department's October activity report presented to Mayor Billy Moss and the City Council Monday, 45 of the 101 total arrests were for drug use, possession or trafficking. Prior to Shelton's appointment, Skeens said drug arrests averaged about 18 to 20 per month.

Both Skeens and Shelton said the problem with drugs is that they often usher in other illegal activity.

"Drugs lead to burglaries, theft, all other crimes," said Shelton of users who steal to get money or resources to satisfy their nefarious behavior.


"People who work hard every day, you know, they don't deserve to see it and they don't deserve to have to live around it," said Skeens.

Drugs can be found everywhere in Lancaster, not just in one or two neighborhoods, said Skeens.

"We've seen everything from crystal meth, cocaine, all the way down to prescription drugs, marijuana and some alcohol," he said.

Sometimes officers will bust a person on drug use unexpectedly.

"We get a lot of drugs from just making a traffic stop," said officer Tim Royce.

Making an arrest is one thing, but making sure the offender pays is another, said Skeens. Officers need to ensure evidence is properly packaged and secured and that paperwork and case reports are filled out correctly.

"Making an arrest is pointless if you don't get a conviction," he said.

And with Ron Lamb coming on board as new chief next week, Shelton doesn't the see the department's focus letting up.

"He'll keep doing what we got started," she said.

"They're doing a great job," she said of the department's anti-drug efforts.

Skeens echoed that. "They're determined. You couldn't ask for anything more," he said.

Lamb doesn't see an end to the effort, either.

"That will continue," he said. "I support them 100 percent. If drug dealers, drug users and anyone in this community, and those coming through here haven't noticed what these guys are doing within the last few months, they need to take note."

The public has the opportunity to help police by anonymously reporting activity through sending a note to a post office box or by making a phone call. The drug tip line is 792-6634 and the address is P.O. Box 413, Lancaster, Ky. 40444.

The recent activity should send a message to those wanting to use, sell or buy drugs, said Skeens.

"If they're coming here to buy or sell drugs, they're gonna get caught."

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