LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – A reported rift between two law enforcement agencies leads to the disbanding of a power house narcotics unit that is credited with numerous drug busts in Columbus and Lowndes County.
People are worried that the break up of the Columbus Lowndes Metro Narcotics Unit will make it easier for drug dealers to do business. Officers on both sides who say despite the split, very little, if anything will change.
A decision to disband the Columbus-Lowndes Metro Narcotics Unit came after an exchange of letters between Columbus Police Chief Sylvain McQueen and Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge. A disagreement on who would be hired, after suggestions from both, led to a rift that couldn’t be repaired.
LT John Duke with the City of Columbus Narcotics Unit says, “We shared equipment and we shared information. The information flow was pretty much in house. It was just very convenient, I thought cost effective, and very successful.”
Created in 2007, the two units shared a building as well.
The drug task force led to some big numbers. Both city and county agencies saw more drug take downs this past year than ever before, landing more criminals behind bars.
Duke says, “We go back to separate buildings. But it doesn’t mean we are not working together. In fact I spoke with the county guys twice this morning, so information flow is still the same.”
Jurisdiction is a bigger issue now. Either department, when pursuing criminals in the other’s area, will need assistance. Local law officers have seen a drop off in Meth arrests and abuse. Now they are focusing more on cocaine and marijuana.
Capt. Bobby Grimes wityh the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Deapt. says, “It limits their jurisdiction to the county until we need them or until they can do things out in the county with us. We’re going to continue making these raids like we are here in the county and in the city. It’s not going to change a lot. They are not going to be safe no matter where they are.”
The split has understandably raised a few eyebrows. But officers and deputies stress they remain committed to taking illegal narcotics off the street.
No word if the two units with combine again in the future.