Task force continues war on drugs

Published 5:38 am Tuesday, March 23, 2010

By Eason Franklin
The Lowndes Signal

Of the approximately 30 law enforcement officials working to make Lowndes County a safer place to live, three in the Sheriff’s Office are making a diligent effort to fight the war on drugs.

The Lowndes County Drug Task Force (LCDTF) is faced with the daunting task of monitoring over 16,000 citizens within the county limits.

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Agents must observe, report and investigate illegal activity while on the job.

“It’s a heavy work load, but we put in the hours to do what is needed,” said LCDTF Commander Wilbert Barnfield. “We’re not overlooking anyone.”

Drugs have always been a part of any society, but the economic downturn has not helped the situation for the LCDTF agents.

According to Barnfield, “users steal, burglarize and pawn property to narcotics dealers to purchase illegal substances.”

This makes the agents’ jobs even harder when proper reports are not filed by victims whom have had their personal possessions stolen or homes burglarized.

“We need people to communicate any suspicious or illegal activity as they see it,” said Barnfield.

Task force agents execute search warrants to find property that is obviously stolen, but without victims filing reports on missing or stolen items it makes the task of returning the property virtually impossible.

Barnfield added, “when we come in your house, it’s because we’ve already been there.”

Residents can document property and serial numbers of personal possessions in case such an incident occurs. Similar scenarios have brought about the arrest of certain violators.

The task force is also focusing on the community as a whole to prevent the underage sale of alcohol in addition to the sale of drugs. They are also requesting the help of Lowndes County residents.

Concerned citizens can call 334-548-6868 to report any illegal or suspicious activity.

“Callers can retain their anonymity and any information left would remain strictly confidential,” said Barnfield. “The only way to make a difference is to be involved.”

“We have found televisions, guns and stereos. Without those reports we cannot determine who the property belongs to,” said Barnfield.

Numerous arrests have been made by members of the task force concerning the illegal use of marijuana.

“We’re not going to tolerate selling in front of grocery stores.  If you want to talk to me, I’m available,” said Barnfield. “I’ll make it my business to see what you have to say.”

Barnfield emphasized that individual citizens can make a difference in their communities.

“We’re going to make a difference on the streets.  We want everyone to feel comfortable about where they live and for people that don’t know me, ask about me.  I’ll get the job done,” said Barnfield.

The LCDTF commander asked that concerned citizens keep a good report and be sensitive to every issues.

“If you don’t observe what’s going on in the home, then we will.  Please be observant of your surroundings. Please ask questions, if you’re unsure what to look for,” Barnfield said. “It’s hard to enforce when people don’t understand. Our teens have options and one of those options is to lead a positive life.”

Barnfield said the ultimate goal is to bring the community closer together and to be more open with communicating with officers.

He also wants to gain the trust of residents hoping action will be taken to educate residents on signs of illegal activity.

“Educate the community on what to look for and at the end of the day leave fear in the hearts of dealers. It seems that they don’t fear to sell in Lowndes county. If you sell you are going to prison,” he said.