When the Elsberry Board of Aldermen convened on Feb. 11, Police Chief Robert Bodley asked for and received the council’s blessing with regard to the formation of a drug interdiction force.
“Lincoln County already has a drug task force made up of undercover narcotics officers,” said Bodley. “What we’re wanting to form now is basically a joint effort between the Elsberry Police Department and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department to slow down the trafficking of narcotics and illegally obtained currency from illicit drug sales.”
The impetus for such a program stems from an incident that took place along Hwy. 79 back in 2013.
“Last summer we had a large drug seizure on Hwy. 79 that involved 54 pounds of marijuana,” said Bodley. “At that time the DEA told us that Hwy. 79 was becoming more and more of a thoroughfare for those trafficking narcotics from source states such as Texas and Arizona to places like Chicago or even northern Missouri for distribution.”
Hwy. 61 is policed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who Bodley said are trained in interdiction procedures and know what signs to look for when it comes to intercepting those who attempt to traffic narcotics.
Thus, those individuals are now choosing to travel Hwy. 79, which they assume will be patrolled far less.
Being part of a drug interdiction force will give the Police Department jurisdiction within the entire Lincoln County portion of Hwy. 79.
“With this new understanding that we have with the sheriff’s department we don’t have to stop at the city limits of Elsberry,” said Bodley. “We have more leeway to follow vehicles and build a case before we make a stop.”
This new program will have no negative effect on the city’s budget.
“In fact, being part of a drug interdiction force will actually help us with funding,” said Bodley. “There are more grants out there that are available to interdiction forces as opposed to just regular police departments.”
The increased effort to combat drug trafficking will also not cost the city any of its current manpower.
“This is not in any way going to lesson the patrol within the city limits,” said Bodley. “It won’t affect response times and it won’t interfere with the normal patrol duties of any of our officers.”