Davis County's drug problem has not gone away, but financial support for battling it has eroded somewhat in the past two years, the Davis Council of Governments was told Wednesday.
Layton Police Chief Doyle Talbot this year heads the Davis Metro Narcotics Strike Force, a multi-agency cooperative undercover drug investigation. Talbot told COG members the county's drug problem is not subsiding, but financial problems with the strike force may cause some cutbacks or changes in its operation.The stike force, which Talbot said currently has three undercover agents, works countywide and in 1987 investigated 425 cases, resulting in 208 drug charges being filed against 140 persons.
The strike force was based in Clearfield in 1987 under direction of Clearfield Police Chief Daren Green. It rotated to Layton this year and has been under Talbot's direciton since January.
But Talbot told COG members that some cities haven't paid their assessments, based on population, and the strike force faces a deficit of up to $3,000 through June 30, the end of its fiscal year.
Although the task force sends monthly reports to each city's police chief, including local arrest and surveillance figures, some cities apparently don't think they are getting their money's worth, Talbot said.
"We have good, experienced agents, and they're involved in a dangerous job," Talbot said. "The drug problem in Davis County isn't going away, in fact we're seeing some new drugs, like crack (a cocaine derivative) coming in now, and we're seeing a resurgence of some of the older drugs, like LSD.
"Drug dealers are mobile, transient, and don't just deal in their neighborhood," Talbot said. "A drug dealer in Clearfield will affect all of the northern county, even up into Weber County, and one in Bountiful will deal all across the southern part of the county and down into Salt Lake.
"That's why we've got to cooperate between our agencies, and also work with agencies in other counties and even on up to the state and federal level," Talbot said.
The strike force investigated 175 narcotics cases in 1987, according to Talbot, breaking them down geographically to 40 in Bountiful, 39 in Layton and 38 in Clearfield.
There were nine each in Sunset, Kaysville and North Salt Lake, with eight in Salt Lake City, seven in West Bountiful, six in Ogden, five in Syracuse, three in South Weber, and one each in Riverdale and Roy.
The chief said the strike force is targeting lower-level dealers who sell to individuals, and is trying to help individual police agencies target dealers in their jurisdictions.
Among the bright spots in the strike force's financial picture are new laws allowing agents to seize property, such as cars. used in the drug trade, Talbot said. The strike force received $7,261 in restitution, seized property and forfeitures over the past eight months, he said.
"We have a real potential for getting some money out of the operation that way, although we're still learning how to do it properly," said Talbot, adding a problem with faulty paperwork allowed on seizure, a BMW, to slip through their hands and be returned by court order to its owner.
Talbot said the strike force has a lower profile in the news media now, which may also be hurting it. In 1985 and 1986, the practice was to stage huge multi-agency drug sweeps in the early morning hours, hauling dozens of people out of bed and off to jail.
But that created problems for the county attorney's office and backed up the jail booking process, Talbot said, so the strike force has gone to making individual arrests as evidence becomes available.