2018-07-11 / Front Page

Crack down on drugs continues

Burke County Sheriff’s Office credits community
DIANA ROYAL

Following another substantial drug bust on Wednesday, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office gave credit to the community for helping keep the streets safe.

While the number of drug arrests continues to rise, the violent crime rate in the county has dropped 50 percent.

Sheriff Alfonzo Williams says it’s a team effort between the department and concerned citizens.

“We created our narcotics division so that we would have staff dedicated to that solely. We really wanted that concentration,” he said, “but by gaining trust through our community services division, the people of Burke County are stepping up and helping out.”

In fact, over the last 18 months, the BCSO has made 118 arrests due to investigations and the implementation of search warrants, a task often made possible through tips from the community.

“It all goes back to community services,” Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard said. “We are able to break down these barriers and build trust because our faces are out there. People will tell us things because of that and also because they know we will follow through.”

In addition to arrests made via investigations/search warrants, deputies conducting traffic stops have made 249 drug-related arrests during the same 18-month period. The department’s follow-through combined with continuous officer training has resulted in the confiscation of large sums of drugs and weapons. The department has seized 7,594 grams and 126 plants of marijuana, 713.4 grams of methamphetamine, 214.3 grams of cocaine, 4,352 pills (including Oxycodone, Codeine, Alprazolam and ecstasy) and 17 grams of heroin. Additionally, 177 weapons have been sequestered.

When it comes to violent and property crimes, both types of offenses were down 50 percent in 2017. Violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, reached a total of 81 in 2015, dropped to 55 in 2016 and declined to 40 in 2017. While 2015 saw one murder compared to three in both 2016 and 2017, Lewis said those were drug-related in some shape or form. “It’s the number one problem in this county, and we will continue to do all that we can to reduce the problem,” he said, adding that increased traffic enforcement along highways 24 and 25 has helped to catch a number of drug runners from outside the county lines.

Property crimes, composed of burglary theft and motor vehicle theft, have dropped significantly from 474 in 2015 to 447 in 2016 and 237 in 2017. Cleared cases through arrest were also up four times in 2017 when compared to 2016.

“We are constantly deploying new resources and coming up with new ideas, continuing training,” Lewis said. “We have 105 deputies out there, and that’s 210 eyes watching. The community adds thousands more, and if they see something they don’t like, they’re calling and letting us know.”

Sheriff Williams added, “They’re seeing we genuinely care. The criminal element could cause more trouble if they wanted to but hopefully we’re making them think twice. I think it’s on most everyone’s agenda to keep Burke County protected.”

DRUG BUST

Sheriff Williams says proactive traffic stops are helping crack down on crime.

On Wednesday, three men were arrested after deputies initially pulled them over for a seatbelt violation. According to the report, deputies smelled marijuana and one of the men, Tyree Alexander Powell, 19, placed his hand on a pistol sitting on the seat. After searching the vehicle, deputies recovered a total of two firearms, 37.1 grams of marijuana, .2 grams of heroin and digital scales.

Powell, who was identified as the driver, was charged with felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, felony possession of a firearm during a crime and felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. David Cody Phillips, 22, was charged with felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, felony possession of a firearm during a crime, felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, felony possession of heroin and a violation for not wearing a seatbelt (misdemeanor). The other passenger, Joshua Anthony Raymond, 22, was charged with felony possession of a firearm during a crime and felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Return to top