Pubdate: Mon, 21 Nov 2005
Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Trevor Wilhelm
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Police Say They Need More Help

Police say crack, cocaine and other drugs are flooding into 
Peterborough, getting young people hooked and making criminals rich.

It's on the streets, at your children's parties and in their schools 
- -- and drug enforcement can't keep up.

"We're all human beings, you can only work so many hours in a day and 
right now my guys are burning both ends of the candle," said 15-year 
drug enforcement veteran Det. Sgt. Dean Steinke of the Kawartha 
Combined Forces Drug Unit.

In the last year, Peterborough and area has seen virtually every kind 
of drug bust.

On Sept. 15, a 17-year-old boy tried to sell an undercover police 
officer a bag of weed behind a high school.

In June, 100 officers in Peterborough and other cities executed a 
series of armed takedowns following a year-long investigation into a 
drug trafficking network in Peterborough and the surrounding area.

Police said they nabbed a Hells Angels member believed to be a key 
player in Peterborough's drug trade along with his three lieutenants 
and 25 more of the gang's associates.

At the end of August police raided a quiet neighbourhood house to 
find a massive marijuana grow operation in the basement. They pulled 
$500,000 worth of plants from the house, just steps from a school yard.

The same week, officers cleared out 10 acres of marijuana worth $15 
million near Havelock.

Also that week, the joint-forces drug enforcement team Project 
Longarm seized more than $40 million worth of marijuana plants in Bancroft.

To handle all the drugs, Sgt. Rob Messacar said city police have one 
officer on the Kawartha Combined Forces team as well as a criminal 
investigation unit that deals with drugs when they come up in 
relation to other investigations.

On a day-to-day basis, Steinke's single team of half a dozen people 
is battling the growing tide of drugs across the county.

Both say they need more.

"If you gave me 10 more guys, those guys would be just as busy as the 
guys I have right now," Steinke said. "If you gave me 20 more guys, 
they'd be just as busy as the guys I have now."

Police aren't the only ones who could use more resources to fight drugs.

The Four Counties Addiction Services Team gets 1,700 to 2,000 new 
admissions a year and does on-site counselling at three city high 
schools along with schools in other areas.

"If we had more resources we'd see more clients and do more 
specialized programs," said executive director Donna Rogers.

With more manpower, Steinke said his team could go beyond just 
tearing marijuana crops out of the ground, getting crack, coke and 
crystal meth off the streets and arresting the dealers.

They could focus more on striking at the heart of the beast and stop 
the stuff from hitting our streets in the first place.

"As opposed to keeping a handle and just being reactive, if the 
resources were there we could be a little more proactive," Steinke 
said. "You can only do so much with the resources you have. It makes 
it difficult."

As it is, they can barely keep up with the warrants.

Between April 1 and Oct. 1, OPP across the province executed an 
average of about four drug search warrants a day, based on a five day 
work week.

"In order to get a search warrant we're looking at a six to eight 
hour process," Steinke said. "By the time you have it written, get it 
to the judiciary, get it back and execute it, you're looking at six 
to eight hours, and we're doing 3.8 a day."

But still, the drugs keep coming, said city police Staff Sgt. Steve 
Streeter, and it's not just the addicts getting hurt.

City police believe they're seeing a rise in violent crime pushed by 
the climbing number of drug users.

Third quarter statistics show that drug offences and robberies both 
increased by 42 per cent over the same period last year.

City police recorded 108 drug offences this year to the end of 
September. Last year they had 76.

Marijuana was the main offender in both years, followed by cocaine.

The reported robberies also jumped from 31 last year to 44 at the end 
of September.

"We definitely do see a connection with the prevalence of drugs and 
other street crime offences that would include robberies and break 
and enters," Streeter said. "The drugs aren't cheap, the money has to 
come from somewhere. For many of the users, particularly those heavy 
users, they have to rely on criminal offences in order to keep the 
supply of drugs coming."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman