Interstate partnerships fight crime
Interstate 85 poses a major problem for Thomasville Police Department.
With such a large thoroughfare stretching through its district, the department constantly fights the transport of drugs and various other crimes on an interstate with easy on and off access points that lead into Chair City neighborhoods.
“There have been several crimes that have occurred in the city because [criminals] get off the interstate, get back on and then they're gone,” Chief Jeff Insley said. “It's a challenge.”
Patrolling such an interstate can't be done alone, and law enforcement agencies rely on each other to stop the drug trafficking and cash smuggling that end up finding their way into local communities.
A recent partnership with police, the Davidson County Sheriff's Office and the Winston-Salem Office of Homeland Security sent a message that Thomasville's section of Interstate 85 is no safe passage for criminals.
A joint operation with the three agencies April 21-24 identified and interrupted a bulk cash and illegal narcotics smuggling operation that had been traveling to and from Davidson County along Interstate 85. The operation led to the seizure of approximately $52,068 in 11 cash bundles, 30 fraudulent U.S. Treasury refund checks worth more than $55,000 and nearly 61 pounds of marijuana.
“The big thing for an operation like this to work is having partners who are willing to come together and want to work and make a difference,” said Insley. “We have that. We all have that same end goal and that's to make a difference and do something good for the community. There is a lot of work and effort that goes into putting an operation like that together.”
The April operation is part of a wider-ranging drug strategy Insley said he plans to implement over the coming months. Part of his plan is to conduct similar operations based on recent data and information that help his department identify specific target areas of crime within the city.
Recent data, Insley said, shows that marijuana seizures over the past year increased while cocaine and crack seizures decreased. Heroin use continues to be on rise and law enforcement agencies still struggle with the illegal use of prescription drugs.
“It has that ripple effect,” Insley said. “One man charged with car break-ins was doing it to pay for his heroin issues. It's not only impacting the usage but our property crimes as well. What we are looking at is things that we have seen in the city that have become a concern for us. We are working on a drug strategy that will really make a difference and help the overall quality of life in the community.”
In addition to the charges for narcotic and fraud violations, assets seized during the operation may be rewarded back to TPD and used for equipment, training and helping the overall crime fighting effort.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.