The Davis Metro Narcotics Strike Force is busting more drug dealers in Davis County than ever before - now if it could only get the cooperation of Clinton and West Bountiful cities.
The two small bedroom communities haven't paid their annual share of the strike force's budget for four years.Admittedly, less than 2 percent of the county's drug cases stem from the two cities, but officials still ought to pony-up, says Larry Higgins, Bountiful police chief and chairman of the force's board.
"The drug problem is countywide, it knows no boundaries and everybody has to be on-board to fight it," he said.
West Bountiful City Manager Wendell Wild says he doesn't know why the city hasn't made its annual $2,000 payment but will from now on. "I think it was an oversight . . . it really wasn't a priority but it's in the budget now and will be next year."
Clinton leaders also can't explain their city's delinquency. "I don't know anything about it. Maybe it's that we don't have much of a need for it," said Mayor DeMar Mitchell, who was elected last November. He promised to "check into the matter."
The strike force, organized in 1983, is only partially funded by annual payments or contributions from each of the county's 15 cities (see box). The remainder of its $140,000 yearly budget comes from seizures and forfeitures.
Last year, for example, officers seized $450,000 worth of vehicles, of which $72,000 worth were forfeited. Nearly $46,000 in cash and weapons were seized from dealers, bringing the strike force's total haul to $115,000.
By state law, the money goes directly to drug interdiction, office expenses and to pay agent wages.
Higgins said the failure of the two cities to make their annual payments barely affects the drug war. But the matter is one of principle.
"We're not trying to be hard on them. We've just got to fight this together."
The strike force arrested 219 suspected dealers last year with a 99 percent conviction rate for felony offenses. Agents seized mostly marijuana but found high levels of cocaine and LSD. This year, they will seize almost 20 times more methamphetamine than last.
"That's become the drug of choice . . . it's cheaper than cocaine and more accessible," said Paul Rapp, agent-in-charge.
Davis Metro Narcotics Strike Force
Cities participating; their contribution and percentage of total drug cases: City Donation Case percent
Layton one officer 37.0
Clearfield one officer 19.4i
Bountiful one officer 9.1
Kaysville one officer 5.0
North Salt Lake $3,146 4.3
Farmington $3,250 3.7
Woods Cross $2,500 3.0
Centerville $5,500 1.8
Syracuse $2,000 1.6
Fruit Heights $1,900 1.3
West Point $1,250 0.7
West Bountiful $1,950* 0.7
Clinton 0 0.7
South Weber $950 less than 0.5
Davis County one deputy unknown
Note: Adjoining counties account for 8 percent of all drug cases. *West Bountiful's contribution for the coming year.