Editorial: Bang for the buck?
February 1, 2012
Convictions and drug seizures reported by the All Crimes Enforcement Team in its 2011 report raise questions about how effective and necessary the unit is today in Moffat and Routt counties. On the surface, the numbers don’t appear to warrant the time, resources and expense.
There were some surprising figures released in Monday's Craig Daily Press story outlining last year's activity by the All Crimes Enforcement Team, a task force that operates in Moffat and Routt counties.
According to the report, the task force conducted 29 investigations last year, resulting in four convictions and the seizure of drugs with an estimated total street value of $42,807.68.
The breakdown on seizures: 372.12 grams of cocaine, 2.8 grams of methamphetamine, and 3 grams of marijuana.
Perhaps there are aspects of the task force's activity that aren't as tangible as the conviction and seizure numbers, and if that's the case, forgive the editorial board's opinion today.
However, if we're to view ACET's success based off those numbers, a question arises:
Is the task force making a big enough dent in the area's illegal drug trade?
On the surface, it doesn't appear so.
For instance, take the contributions of the Craig and Moffat County community.
According to the report, Moffat County contributed $22,596.67 and Craig added $15,396.66, bringing our community's allocation to ACET to $37,993.33.
A basic comparison tells us we're barely getting a dollar-for-dollar match when it comes to contributions versus drugs seized.
The numbers are more glaring when considering Routt County, Steamboat Springs and Hayden also contribute to ACET.
Other numbers that caused us to look at last year's activity with a raised eyebrow was ACET's cocaine and methamphetamine seizures.
The majority of the 372 grams of cocaine ACET seized for the year, 340 grams, stemmed from one bust in Steamboat Springs.
What would the year's activity have looked like without that singular bust?
And while methamphetamine, once such a plague in Craig and Moffat County, perhaps isn't as prevalent as it once was, or the awareness isn't as top of mind as it has been, the drug still has a presence here. Our law enforcement officials have told us as much.
Is 2.8 grams an acceptable amount to remove from two cities, two counties and one town in a calendar year by a task force designed to investigate and enforce against it?
Again, maybe there's a different way to gauge the task force's success in a year, but at first glance, it appears the bang for the buck is lacking.
That's perhaps a microcosm for the so-called war on drugs in general — the return against the investment in this decidedly one-sided battle is greatly skewed.
The editorial board believes it's time to ask some hard questions of the task force and the executive board responsible for its oversight.
Can the money, time and resources applied to ACET be used more wisely by the contributing agencies in their own communities?
Numbers don't generally lie, and if that holds true with ACET's report, answers to questions raised today appear obvious.