Harvey County drug task force continues to move forward

NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Law enforcement officials in Harvey County are ramping up their drug task force in an effort to tackle the county’s drug problem.

KSN first told you back in March that Harvey County Drug Task Force was being revived. It was originally disbanded five years ago.

Tuesday night, both the Newton Police Chief Eric Murphy and Harvey County Sheriff Chad Gay updated city and county leaders on their progress.

Sheriff Chad Gay says they have converted a room into a space where the two current members of the task force can work, side by side.

“We had one guy in this office and all the way on the PD side, which is a considerable distance from here, we had the other drug task force member,” said Sheriff Gay.

On top of a better work space, Chief Eric Murphy says they are adding personnel.

“We are looking forward to a third investigator after the first of the year with the sheriff’s department,” said Chief Murphy.

As well as, staff to oversee their operations.

“We are going to have oversight and supervision by both the Newton Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department over the drug task force as far as daily supervisory responsibilities,” said Chief Murphy.

However, Chief Murphy says they still have some needs.

“Equipment, we do have enough equipment to run one operation, but if we have one operation that goes at a time, we definitely need more surveillance equipment,” said Chief Murphy.

The needs are something city officials are aware of and will try to address as the drug task force progresses.

“When I talk to citizens in Newton, law enforcement, safety and the concern over drug use and sales and trafficking is a huge issue,” said Barth Hague, Newton Mayor.

Before the Harvey County Drug Task Force returned, one detective for the Newton Police Department was responsible for investigating cases.

Preliminary numbers show that detective investigated 129 cases in 2016 alone.

Both Chief Murphy and Sheriff Gay say they are working to get other agencies in Harvey County to collaborate with them on the drug task force.

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