Note: This is the seventh of 13 weekly updates about your Patch editor's journey though the Menomonee Falls Citizen's Police Academy.
“You’re naïve you don’t think there’s a drug problem out here.”
Those are the words of Waukesha County Sheriff’s Lt. Robert Doffek who heads the county Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Unit. He joined the Menomonee Falls Citizen’s Police Academy Tuesday to discuss the way his unit works collaboratively with other police departments in the county to disrupt the flow of drugs.
His words weren’t meant to alarm anyone, nor were they meant to strike fear into the hearts of residents living in this area. Rather, they were intended as a dose of reality. Though Falls is a safe community, it is not sheltered from the ongoing war on drugs, which is fought in communities large and small throughout the entire country.
A person living in the Falls doesn’t need to search far for proof that drug trafficking occurs locally. On Monday, the who had 65 pounds of marijuana, 1 ½ ounces of cocaine, and $500,000 cash.
Also, don’t forget, the largest methamphetamine bust in Waukesha County history occurred two years ago right here in Menomonee Falls along Appleton Avenue. According to the report on Menomonee Falls NOW, authorities seized over 2 pounds of pure crystal meth that day.
Statistics show that over the past four years, the Metro Drug Unit has found plenty of work in the county.
Here’s a glimpse at the unit’s drug seizure totals over the past few years in Waukesha County:Drug 2007 2008 2009 2010 Cocaine (grams) 828.29 941.31 273.95 97.5 Crack (grams) 15.1 119.16 87.3 18 Marijuana (grams) 475,923.87 39,785.94 31,386.95 123,759.9 Marijuana plants 1,062 3,741 840 1,245 MDMA tablets 55 260 565 719 Psilocybin (grams) 133.88 44.9 93.67 60.3 Oxycodone / Hydrocodone (grams) 237.5 547.5 304.5 202 Heroin (grams) .10 166.3 199.74 115.1 Schedule I, II, III, IV, V narcotics (grams) 110 320.5 882 519
Source: Waukesha County Metro Drug Unit data
On Tuesday, Doffek brought in a buffet of drugs that had been seized over the years to show the class.
“All the stuff on this table is poison as far as I’m concerned,” said Doffek pointing to the marijuana, cocaine, meth, heroin and other drugs strewn about on the table in the center of the room. “That’s why we’re fighting the war on drugs – to keep this stuff off our streets.”
Doffek said the primary drugs of choice in Waukesha County are marijuana, heroin and diverted pharmaceuticals (oxycodone, valium). He added that throughout the county over the past few years. Since 2008, there have been 15 fatal heroin overdoses in Waukesha County, according to the county medical examiner.
The publicly funded Lifepoint Needle Exchange program, which is operated by the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, is a program that distributes the materials needed for users to inject heroin in 11 cities throughout the state. A user can dial a phone number, and a person driving an unmarked van will deliver a kit with the bands, sterile water, cooking plates and needles for the user to inject the drug safely - free of charge.
The program is meant to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, but Doffek said it’s up for debate whether it actually encourages the use of heroin.
On the frontlines
The Metro Drug Unit is composed of members from the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department, City of Brookfield, New Berlin, Muskego, Waukesha, Village of Eagle, Hartland, Pewaukee and as well as the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office.
These are the men and women that pull off stings that you might see on television. Undercover officers use a variety of secret radio and video devices when they meet with a dealer to purchase drugs, and build a case against them.
The Metro Drug Unit also fields a team of informants that Doffek joked, “have made a deal with the devil.” These are small-time drug dealers that were busted by police and are willing to join officers to work off a criminal charge. It’s like picking the low-hanging fruit to get to the larger reward at the top of tree.
An informant with a record won’t necessarily get their charge expunged; however, the judge will get a nice letter from the Metro Drug Unit detailing the work the informant did with officers.
It was yet another eye-opening session at the Citizen’s Academy. Next week, we’ll check out the dispatch center and see a demonstration from the K-9 Unit.