Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day. They do it to defend and protect, ensuring that when we lay our heads down at night we can feel safe and secure.
The phrase, itself, has been used often, even on these pages. Perhaps it’s a phrase that many might see as cliche. But after experiencing those words put into action this week, we can say unequivocally that the phrase holds far more meaning than one might imagine.
After a report led us to the discovery of ongoing — and simultaneous — drug campaigns being carried out in the city and county Monday, we located, and covered first hand two of those warrant executions by Clinton’s Neighborhood Improvement Team and Sampson’s Special Investigation Division agents.
It was a sight to behold as armed officers stormed suspected drug houses, entering doors with no idea what — or who — might be behind them, all in an attempt to capture dealers who are believed to have been manufacturing, selling or delivering (and in many cases doing all three) scores of illegal substances, from crack and heroin to prescription pills, across our county.
Monday’s operations were the first of what will likely be many days of executing search warrants and taking area residents into custody, particularly given that investigators have some 130 individuals in their sights, all who, over the course of four months to a year, have allegedly sold drugs to undercover operatives.
What officers are doing this week is highly dangerous work. The people they are dealing with are suspected drug offenders, most with violent criminal histories. Many are heavily armed and some are likely high when officers make their way into their homes. It is a lethal scenario that is real each and every time officers approach a door and enter a residence.
And no matter how well armed our officers are, when they enter those doors, there is every chance what’s on the other side is waiting to do them harm.
To our officers credit, in the first three days of the operations, there have been no violent incidents; suspects have been taken quietly and quickly into custody. And while weapons and drugs have been seized in many of the neighborhoods targeted for the raids, suspects haven’t caused serious problems.
And our officers, though doing the jobs assigned to them effectively and efficiently, have been mindful of safety first, both for themselves and for those they are there to take into custody.
The raids have been impressive, both in how they’ve been carried out and in the process that brought them to this point.
No one really knows all the hard work, and again danger, that goes into making cases against suspected drug dealers. It takes far longer than one can imagine and involves countless hours of meticulous and highly dangerous work.
It’s not just a matter of reporting suspected drug activity and then, boom, an arrest is made. Far from it. The tip is the first, and all-important step, but there are far more hoops that must be jumped through before warrants can be drawn and searches and arrests made.
What is happening this week is the culmination of many months of hard work by city and county law enforcement officers.
The end result will be removing individuals from our communities — at least for a little while — who are charged with everything from trafficking in heroin to sell and delivery of cocaine, marijuana and other controlled substances, some within 1,000 feet of a park or school.
Officers are, indeed, putting their lives on the line for all of us each and every day and we, for one, offer them a heartfelt thank you for the jobs they do, jobs with dangers most of us will ever truly understand.