Pubdate: 16 Mar 2002
Source: Times Daily (AL)
Contact:  2002 Times Daily
Author: Tom Smith


RED BAY - Police Lt. Eddie Ingram said Alabama ranked 49th in the nation in
illegal drug and currency seizures in 2000.

"But we're committed to changing that," said Ingram, of the Villa Rica,
Ga., Police Department.

"We've dedicated the first six months of this year on working with
departments and officers in Alabama to improve their skills in fighting the
war on drugs."

Ingram and members of his Interstate Crime Enforcement division spent
Wednesday and Thursday with 80 officers from Alabama and Mississippi
teaching a drug interdiction seminar.

The Red Bay Police Department sponsored the seminar. "This is just a part
of our continuing effort to better train officers in the battle against
illegal drug activity," Police Chief Ronald "Reb" Boatwright said. "These
guys are professionals. Everyone who took the seminar got something out of
it that they can use to make them better officers."

The officers, who represented 30 departments, were taught to look beyond an
initial traffic-stop to detect and apprehend all types of criminals who use
the roadways.

"We never teach a class that someone doesn't take the information and make
the biggest case ever," Ingram said.

He said 10 days after a similar class in Walker County, an officer from
Jasper made a traffic stop that resulted in the seizure of 10 kilos of
illegal drugs.

"In the last six months, our department has seized more than $5 million in
U.S. currency and more than $15 million in drugs. All of these came through
Alabama," Ingram said. "We want to teach officers in Alabama what to look for."

The seminar covered a variety of areas.

"It was very intense training," said Terry Zills, an investigator with the
Franklin County District Attorney's office. "We were taught some new
techniques in approaching a vehicle at a traffic stop, as well as where
drugs can be hidden in a vehicle."

Officer Spencer Clark, another member of the drug interdiction team, said
the seminar is about educating officers about certain signs that could lead
them to stopping illegal drugs from circulating.

"Too many times, patrol officers ignore the obvious," said Clark, who is a
former Alabama state trooper. "This training re-enforces what they have
learned and wakes them up to new approaches."

He said every traffic stop has the potential for violence, so the program
also teaches officer survival.

As a part of the seminar, the officers learned new places where drug
couriers hide drugs. Ingram said one of the strangest places his department
has found drugs is in the driveshaft of a car.

"The guy had been running drugs for five years before he was caught,"
Ingram said.

Ingram is a 22-year veteran of law enforcement and has worked in three states.

"This was one of the best schools I've been to," said Lt. Chris Hargett, an
investigator with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. "(Lt. Ingram) has
learned a lot through his experience, and he provided us information on
techniques that he has learned over the years."

Ingram said his department has taught seminars nationwide and usually
conducts classes every other week of the year.

And when they're not traveling, they're entertaining other departments in
Villa Rica.

Last week, Ingram said officers from several departments, including one
from Canada, were in Georgia to ride and learn from his department.

"We try to tell it like it is," Ingram said. "We want the officers that
take this course to know as much about drug interdiction as possible. We
don't hold anything back."

That was obvious from his opening remarks at the seminar.

"We're here to teach, and you're here to learn," Ingram told the officers.
"If any of you think this is a two-day vacation, then you can leave and go
fishing or go home. This isn't for you."

None of the officers left. 
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