Evansville police recruit help to prevent drug, alcohol use

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Ashley McCallum
Sunday, September 17, 2017

EVANSVILLEPreventing drug use and underage drinking are top priorities for Evansville police and Building a Safer Evansville.

To enforce those priorities, sometimes they need a little help.

Law enforcement officers from the Evansville Police Department, Rock County Sheriff's Office, Rock County Special Investigations Unit and Janesville and Edgerton police departments blanketed Evansville and the town of Union twice in August and conducted high-visibility traffic stops.

The deployments Aug. 2 and 31 were funded through a Rock County Prevention Network grant, which Building a Safer Evansville got to deter illegal drug use and underage drinking, said Evansville police Sgt. Justin Mahan-Strupp.

Officers and police dogs from the five departments watched for drug and alcohol use while performing traffic stops, he said.

The police hope that having an occasional “flood” of officers in the area will have a deterrent effect. If people suspect that a large number of officers might be on patrol, they might not traffic drugs through the city, Mahan-Strupp said.

The first two deployments were successful, he said.

Besides issuing several citations, the Rock County Special Investigations Unit and sheriff's office obtained a warrant to search a residence, leading to the arrests of known marijuana suppliers.

Police arrested brothers Dale R. Hall, Steven A. Hall and Anthony R. Hall of 513 Goldcoast Lane, Evansville, after they reported finding large amounts of drugs and drug paraphernalia in their home.

Unmarked law enforcement vehicles watched “known targets” for suspicious activity during the two deployments, Mahan-Strupp said. The Hall brothers' house was considered one of those targets.

Police made 20 traffic stops Aug. 2. Of the nine citations issued, three were related to drug and alcohol use—one for a minor possessing alcohol and two arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia, Mahan-Strupp said.

Police made nine traffic stops Aug. 31, he said. Four citations were issued, three of them for drug and alcohol use, not including the arrest resulting from the warrant.

The community was split on support for the deployments, Mahan-Strupp said.

Critics said tax dollars should not be used in that way, he said. Others thought marijuana should be legalized, and police should stop “wasting time” arresting people for using it.

Mahan-Strupp clarified that no tax dollars were used for the deployments.

Evansville Police Chief Scott McElroy said Building a Safer Evansville has secured a grant to pay for at least two more high-visibility deployments in 2018. More deployments might be scheduled if the money is available.

“I just think it's a win-win,” McElroy said. “It's really a countywide collaboration, and I think it works well.”

Last updated: 7:59 pm Sunday, September 17, 2017

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