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Opinion: Keep Politics Out of Drug Enforcement Policy

Written By Editor on 9/20/13 | 9/20/13


Sheriff Tony Desmond, speaking to WNYT in early September, offered this comment concerning a joint operation between his deputies and members of the New York Army National Guard in a pot-eradication mission that led to the destruction of hundreds of marijuana plants: "I would dare say that marijuana is the biggest thing in the county as far as illegal substances."

As an outside observer looking into Schoharie County's struggles with illegal drug use and our various law enforcement agency's efforts to combat it, I see merits to both Sheriff Desmond's hard stand against marijuana and Cobleskill Police Chief Larry Travis' equally rigid crackdown on heroin use in his jurisdiction.

Chief Travis' force, according to a February article published by the Cobleskill paper, have arrested six individuals for possession of heroin, which has only recently spread to our rural confines, and another four for intent to sell since mid-2012, making it a high priority for the Cobleskill police.

However, in recent weeks, I have noticed a more political tone in drug enforcement debates by the supporters of both Sheriff Desmond and Chief Travis, who are running against each other in this fall's sheriff election, either praising one for their particular crackdown, or criticizing the other for lack of.

And it is really starting to aggravate me.

Both men are law enforcement professionals with decades of experience under their belt and both have successfully targeted a particular illegal substance within their jurisdiction: Sheriff Desmond - marijuana; Chief Travis - heroin, essentially one department is complimenting the other. And while I'm sure there is more work to be done by both forces in combating illegal drugs in this county, there is no doubt that one mission is no more important than the other and that both are vital to upholding the law and protecting our citizenry.

With that said, could we focus on a productive law enforcement plan that involves both departments - with their particular specialties in two of the worst illegal substances we as a county face - along with the stationed State Troopers not only sharing intelligence and working together to fight the influx of harmful drug use, but also in merging their separate missions to form one potent, highly competent law enforcement apparatus to tackle the scourge of all drug use in our beautiful county.

This is an issue where law enforcement and citizen alike should unite behind a broad drug enforcement policy of containing the spread of marijuana, such as in operations conducted by the Sheriff's department, and nipping the dangerous threat of heroin infesting our community like Chief Travis' force has so effectively done, and put aside the political rancor that neither the electorate nor a position as honorable as the sheriff's office deserves.
 
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