Cecil County Sheriff Adams Advances Anti-Drug Efforts; Elkton, North East Top Drug Bust Areas

March 25, 2015

Cecil County Sheriff Scott Adams is advancing multiple new anti-drug initiatives, seeking grants to pay for them, and using new federal resources to go after drug traffickers, the newly installed Sheriff told the County Council this week.

Adams, who won an overwhelming victory in the November general election and took office last December 1, outlined several collaborative efforts to address Cecil County’s drug abuse crisis through prevention efforts in the schools, treatment of drug-addicted jail inmates, and aggressive law enforcement to combat drug trafficking in the county.

“It’s not a one-pronged approach,” Adams said in Elkton at a Tuesday County Council worksession. “It’s got to be multi-faceted.”

Adams detailed how expanded law enforcement resources, coming after Cecil County received a federal designation last year as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), is providing new help to combat illegal drugs. Given the county’s location adjacent to the Pennsylvania and Delaware state lines, involvement in HIDTA has helped expedite multi-jurisdiction investigations and apprehensions, with a full-time Drug Enforcement Agency employee and a Homeland Security employee working in Cecil County with the Sheriff’s Department and the multi-agency Cecil County Drug Task Force.

In addition, Sheriff’s deputies are working with the US Marshall Service’s fugitive apprehension unit as deputized Marshalls, thus allowing them to cross state lines in pursuing drug suspects. Adams said most of the heroin coming into or through Cecil County comes from the Philadelphia area, with a lesser amount coming from Wilmington DE and minimal amounts moving north from Baltimore City.

Those efforts focus on upper-level drug dealers, while the Sheriff’s Department’s Street Level Crime unit and patrol deputies focus on “quality of life” issues in local communities, probe tips from citizens and utilize traffic stops to apprehend drug dealers operating in the county.

And since Adams took office, his department has aggressively pursued drug crimes from a law enforcement perspective. Apart from other co-operative operations with State Police and other agencies, Adams compiled a geographic summary of 89 drug arrests by his own agency from 12/1/14 through 3/23/15, showing that Elkton registered the highest volume of drug arrests: 36. The summary was compiled by patrol districts covering certain geographic areas of the county. So patrol area 3, for example, covering the sparsely populated southern Cecil County below the Canal, registered just 3 drug busts.

The North East patrol area reported 23 drug incidents while the county Detention Center was a drug crime hotspot with 18 incidents, according to the report.

Adams said that attempts to smuggle drugs into the Detention Center are a chronic problem but one he is taking steps to address with heightened security as well as initiatives to try to get inmates to participate in expanded counseling and treatment options to get them clean from drug addiction.

Heroin was the primary drug confiscated in arrests, Adams said, with 874 baggies of suspected heroin. Suboxone, a drug used to ease the symptoms of heroin withdrawal, accounted for 9 “strips” of confiscated material, and Adams said that Suboxone was a frequent contraband that people tried to smuggle into the jail.

Adams has come up with an interesting new proposal to address the problem of jail inmates being released after serving their time and getting ‘clean’ while incarcerated but returning to old habits and associates upon their release.

He researched Vivitrol, an injected medication that blocks the effects of opiates including heroin for up to 30 days. That would give ex-cons enough time to connect with a long term counseling and recovery program, while knowing that it was pointless to use street drugs because they wouldn’t yield a “high.” Adams said

But the medication is expensive, costing $500 to $700 per shot, he noted. He is working with the Health Department to try to obtain a state grant to pay for the costs. “I’m pushing this hard for the county because it works,” Adams said. He noted that Washington County in Maryland started such a program last year and has had significant success in prevent ex-cons from relapsing into drug abuse.

In addition, Adams is exploring the possibility of shifting some pre-trial inmates from being housed in the Detention Center to the Community Corrections program—which is normally only used after a defendant has had a trial and been sentenced to work-release. Some inmates at the Detention Center just do not have the money to make bail and sit there for months awaiting trial, and since they have not been convicted of a crime they cannot be compelled to participate in an increasing number of addiction counseling program offered at the jail.

Adams believes that a shift in some suspects’ status could enable them to get into community recovery programs and enhance their chances of success. The Community Corrections component of the county facility began a program two months ago, under a grant and partnering with the county Health Department, to provide in-house drug treatment services. Ten inmates are now participating, he said.

The Sheriff is pursuing a possible grant from the MacArthur Foundation (best known for its “genius grants” to artists and scientists) to expand such services but competition will be stiff for 26 sites seeking to offer new options for getting arrestees off drugs.

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One Response to Cecil County Sheriff Adams Advances Anti-Drug Efforts; Elkton, North East Top Drug Bust Areas

  1. scott on April 1, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    It is great to see Scott follow through with his campaign promise of addressing this issue. Stay with it please!

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