HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department reports crime is going down, during a time of year where it typically goes up. Investigators believe it is, in part, due to the detective the department brought on to fight the county’s drug problem.
The drug problem in Hancock County was so bad last fall, the sheriff’s department brought on a detective to do nothing but go after drugs. Captain Jeff Rasche said the department hopes to bring on another detective next year. Soon, he hopes to create a joint office space so the Greenfield Police Department narcotics detective can work alongside the sheriff’s department detective.
24-Hour News 8 sat down with the detective to look at how things have changed since he started last fall. To make sure his investigations aren’t compromised, we aren’t revealing the detective’s name or showing his face.
Before he started, investigators said there weren’t enough resources to go after the county’s drug dealers.
“It was basically ending at a user level with traffic stops,” said the narcotics detective.
“I have personal relationships with people who have lost loved ones in this heroin epidemic that we’ve had..so, not having the resources available to help them was probably the most frustrating thing that I personally felt,” said Rasche.
Detectives said dealers were active and bold in Hancock County.
“We drove around marked patrol cars and made traffic stops, so they knew as long as they weren’t out there on the roadways for the most part, carrying their product — they were safe. They didn’t fear the undercover buys or the confidential information buys. Now that those things are happening in our community, they are scared. Speaking with them, they’re aware that we’re out there and that we’re watching,” said the detective.
Rasche gave us look at some of the evidence brought in by the new narcotics detective. Rasche showed us pills, marijuana and cash.
“We weren’t in the dope business. Since we have gotten back into this business, the numbers speak for themselves,” said Rasche.
24-Hour News 8 looked at the numbers from the first 6.3 months the detective was on the job:
- Cases: 45
- Subjects Arrested/Filed charges: 38
- Felony charges: 67
- Misdemeanor charges: 24
- Wanted subjects:2
- Guns seized: 4
- Heroin cases/grams: 12/34
- Meth cases/grams: 7/23
- Marijuana cases/pounds: 11/15
- Controlled substance case: 6
- Counterfeiting/Fraud (> $2,220): 1
- Overdoses: 3
- Search warrants: 28
- Cash seized since January 1, 2016: $9,290
- Both Rasche and the detective said the numbers have surpassed their expectations.
“We’ve seen a change in the dealers in our community. They’ve tightened up a little bit, and there’s been some impact in other areas and other areas of crime that we’ve seen,” said the detective.
The detective spends his day doing surveillance, watching social media, serving warrants and building cases against drug dealers.
“A person in my position prior, had to take calls for service and general patrol. So their time wasn’t allowed to concentrate on narcotics and do in-depth investigations involving the dealers in the community,” said the detective.
At first, arrests came quickly.
“In the early months, it was a very target rich environment and now things have slowed down a little bit. Our targets are at least harder to find,” said the detective.
Investigators said the slowdown is a good thing. As police take dealers and their drugs off the streets, other crimes decrease too. Right around the time the detective started, Rasche said there was a high number of residential burglaries.
“We have seen a decrease in our property crimes significantly in the last few months, which typically this time of year would be going up,” said Rasche, “It’s no secret that a lot of our property crimes are committed by drug dealers. When we have high rate of property crimes coming in it really pulls our resources down, especially here in investigations.”
The long-term goal is to prevent violent crimes.
“Even the small users and abusers and dealers can often times turn very violent. We’ve seen the homicide rate in Marion county for instance skyrocket, and that’s something that we don’t want to see out here. Unfortunately, we did have a drug-related homicide and we’ve made two arrests on that…the drug problem that we have does spill over into other types of crimes,” said Rasche.
Not only has the county seen a slowdown in property crimes, it’s also seen a shift in the types of drugs people are using. Heroin is going down, and users are turning back to meth and prescription pills.
“I found that even the people involved in narcotics use have become scared of heroin due to the high overdose rate, ” said the detective, “Heroin was away from the scene for so long. The drug users are of a new generation. They used things like marijuana, prescription pills and then they found that heroin was a more intense effect and was cheaper. Then as they began using it, they started seeing their co-users overdose on heroin, and they started seeing deaths of their friends and acquaintances. As that started to happen, they quit using the drugs just for fear of death.”
Rasche said he expects to see more problems from prescription pill “cocktails” in the future.
“What we’re hearing from these people, from their mouths, is that they’re scared of the heroin. They’re afraid that it’s going to get a hold of them and could cause more problems with their health, or even death…I think we’re going to see these trends as we go. We’re even starting to see some new prescriptions and now they’re even making some cocktails. They’re mixing different drugs together and making very potent, very strong drugs that they’re injecting or snorting,” said Rasche.