GREENFIELD — Over the past four years, the number of criminal cases brought against drug dealers in Hancock County has steadily declined.
But experts say that’s not because the county’s drug problem has been solved.
Law enforcement officials say they’re as busy as ever investigating drug-related crimes, and the county coroner has seen an increase in the number of deaths attributed to overdoses.
There is no doubt, police say, that drugs remain the root of most crimes committed against county residents, yet there has been no team of officers dedicated to fighting the problem since mid-2010.
That’s when the Hancock County Drug Enforcement Section was last active. The three-man task force, comprised of officers from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and the Greenfield Police Department, was suspended indefinitely in August 2010 after its lead detective admitted to pocketing money intended for drug buys.
Since then, the lack of a systematic approach to targeting drug-dealers is reflected in data that show fewer and fewer drug dealers are being prosecuted in Hancock County each year. Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies say they are cash-strapped and don’t have the resources to dedicate officers to drug investigations.
The Daily Reporter requested records from the Hancock County prosecutor’s office in order to track the most commonly filed drug-dealing felonies. The data shows the highest number of drug-dealing felonies was filed in 2008 and 2009, when the task force was at its peak in investigating drugs.