Imagine paying a business for a service. Then imagine that business refusing to answer any questions about the service.
For several years, that scenario essentially defined the relationship between the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team and taxpayers.
The drug task force, a partnership forged by local law enforcement officials, worked in secrecy, rarely reporting to the cities and counties that funded it.
If the public had questions about the group's progress, well that was too bad. It was a formula for frustration that left a closed-mouth agency open to acid criticism.
Some residents, frustrated by the growing problem of methamphetamine use in their neighborhoods, wondered aloud just how effective the task force was.
But lately, there's been a significant shift in the task force's communication policies -- a shift for the better.
In July, the task force split from the Drug Enforcement Agency. That split allowed the task force to work more local cases and to be more open about its activities.
Since then, the task force has reported its efforts and achievements to local governments. Its members also have been more cooperative with the media.
Although newspapers always advocate for the sun to shine on taxpayer-funded agencies, this isn't about getting the story. It's about the community's right to know about the progress of a group charged with abating a very serious drug problem in Moffat County.
Secrecy also robs the task force of some much-deserved congratulations.
Earlier this week, the group arrested four people after raiding a house that agents had watched for about two months. The four people arrested were charged with drug-related offenses, three with the very serious crimes of distributing methamphetamine. Although the four people arrested are innocent until proven guilty, we congratulate the agents involved with the raid. We don't underestimate the dangers of their job.
We also congratulate law enforcement officials for reporting the raid and talking freely to our reporters about it.
Because what the task force accomplishes in this community is something worth talking about.