Police, task force take the lead in fight against drugs

April 17, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Law enforcement in Franklin County, Pa., is fighting drug activity by assigning select officers to narcotics strike teams and requiring ongoing training of all officers.

The Chambersburg Police Department maintains a crime impact team of five officers.

"It's a group of officers that are permanently assigned to police-community relations and drug investigations," Police Chief Michael DeFrank said.

"A drug investigation could last anywhere from a few days to a few months," he said.

Sometimes, the crime impact team partners with the Franklin County Drug Task Force. The drug task force has three officers, is operated as a law enforcement agency and relies on funding from both municipalities and the county itself.

The drug task force functions on tips from the public, information from confidential informants and the officers' work on the streets, according to Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom, who works closely with the task force.


The Pennsylvania State Police, within the past seven months, assigned two undercover troopers to the Chambersburg station.

And there's indication these efforts are working.

DeFrank said he has received word that a number of Franklin County's drug abusers have moved their operations to Adams County, Pa. Law enforcement there has notified DeFrank of people who have been arrested with prior offenses from Franklin County.

In addition to combating drug activity through investigations and arrests, county agencies and law enforcement are dedicating resources to prevention.

State police give presentations for schools and organizations and work with the county's Enough is Enough program. A Waynesboro organization, Communities that Care, offers continued educational opportunities for both youth and adults.

In his three years as a prevention specialist in the county, George Reitz of the Franklin-Fulton County Drug and Alcohol Program has noticed the schools becoming more open to having someone from an outside agency speak to the students. Others have in-house programs, he said.

"We supply them with a lot of videos and hands-on materials they can use in class," he said. "It's usually when a problem arises that they're more apt to let us come in."

Several county school districts last year hosted guest speakers from the Philadelphia Police Department's Heads-up program. Another presentation in the Waynesboro community is scheduled for May 8, according to the program's Web site.

Other programs in county schools include Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), Teens Resisting Unhealthy Choices Everyday (TRUCE) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

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