Sheriff’s dept. rejoins area drug task force

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department has rejoined theBrookhaven Police Department and other area law enforcement in theSouthwest Mississippi Narcotics Enforcement Unit, a regional taskforce dedicated to cleaning up drug problems in the southwest partof the state.

SMNEU was previously made up of officers from the Pike CountySheriff’s Department, the McComb Police Department, the WalthallCounty Sheriff’s Department and BPD.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said the LCSD was involvedwith SMNEU several years ago, and that the return to the unit is agood move for the area war on drugs.

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“We were members about eight years ago and I think it’s a goodstep for us to get back involved,” he said. “We’re placing a lot ofemphasis on cleaning up drugs in the county, and this is importantbecause this gives us a lot more resources within the county.”

SMNEU Commander Tim Vanderslice said the union is a good one, asLincoln County and the task force have worked together quite a bitin the past, and work well together.

“It closes that gap, because we’ve had to watch our lines wherewe could stop vehicles, and if we were working a dope case in thecounty, you had to get with the sheriff’s office and go with them,”he said.

SMNEU agents will now be able to patrol freely and work withinLincoln County, meaning more drug busts will be a possibility sincethere is more manpower to work on it.

“He’s got two men working dope cases specifically, which can getto be a load since the county’s as big as it is,” Vanderslice said.”We take a lot of heat off them. We’ve been working togetheranyway, and we’re going to continue working together.”

Vanderslice said the best part of the drug task force being madeup of several different jurisdictions is that they are available tohelp each other, which frees up officers to do other tasks withintheir own jurisdictions.

“We strive for a good working relationship with everyone,because if we don’t have one, we sure can’t do it by ourselves,”Vanderslice said. “It’s not about who gets what, it’s about gettingdrugs off the streets.”

Rushing said Vanderslice’s taking the reins as the commander ofSMNEU last year plays a big part not only in his department’sjoining the force, but also in the working relationship theagencies had before. In addition, Brookhaven Police Department is amember of SMNEU, and the relationship between those agencies is agood one as well.

“We’ve always worked great with both SMNEU and the city,”Rushing said. “I felt like it would benefit all of us to be in thetask force. It just makes sense, and it’s a big step for LincolnCounty.”

Vanderslice said he and his agency are proud to have thesheriff’s department as a part of the team.

“We really appreciate them getting in, and we appreciate theboard of supervisors allowing it,” he said. “They won’t bedissatisfied. We’re going to continue to do our job and get dopersoff the streets.”