Chamber hears from drug task force during quarterly meeting
During a Concordia Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday, Jan. 17, attendees heard from a member of the Lafayette County Drug Task Force. Donnie Hammond spoke about the task force and how it operates in a five-county region.
“The task force is comprised of officers from five counties that include Carroll, Johnson, Lafayette, Ray and Saline,” Hammond said. “A few years ago, the task forces in the state of Missouri lost a lot of funding, and that’s how the five-county force started. We just joined together in order to continue doing what we do.”
The LCDTF operates with three full-time and two part-time employees, he said, with one of those working in with the DEA in Kansas City. The way the group operates varies from situation to situation.
“We use informants a lot, people who have been arrested and whom the judges feel are able to help us,” he said. “We give them money and put a wire on them and send them into places buy drugs.” Hammond said many addicts don’t have phones, so he drives many of the informants to the homes where the drug deals are made.
The task force generates a certain amount of drug buys at a specific location and eventually generates a search warrant.
“That’s when the men-in-black come in, bust down the door, and serve the warrant,” he said.
The task force concentrates primarily on methamphetamines and crack cocaine, he said. Also, heroin is making a come back in the St. Louis area.
“Meth is a terrible drug. It is so very addictive,” he said. “I have a son who just got out of prison. He was messed up on meth. Within two days of getting out of prison he was back in jail because of meth. We were able to get him into rehab, and he was soon accepted into a six-month program at a half-way house.”
Hammond also spoke about the current prescription drug problem.
“Prescription drugs are another big problem,” he said. “Some of the pain pills found in medicine cabinets are the same as heroin, just in pill form. It’s a big problem in schools because of the easy access in homes. Kids visit other kids’ homes and go in the bathroom and are like ‘Let’s see what they have.’ It’s like going shopping.”
Hammond said he recently had to rethink the way he speaks at high schools around the area.
“I used to go in and try to tell them about how bad drugs were and tell them about statistics and so on,” he said. “They were just not attentive to yet another discussion about drugs. So, now I get people from probation and parole and take them in front of the kids and let them tell their story. Kids are very attentive when they hear someone’s personal story. And that’s good, because our goal is to educate them, and maybe save one. We can’t save them all, but if we save just one, then it’s worth it.”
When questioned about ways local businesses can help the task force, Hammonds had a simple answer.
“Just support your local law enforcement,” he said. “It seems like at one point law enforcement were seen as heroes, with the show ‘Cops’ and the like. Now we are at the bottom. We are just trying to assist everybody and to do the best we can.”