The Drug and Vice Enforcement Unit (DAVE) engages in covert and overt operations in an effort to combat dangerous drugs, prescription drug abuse, and related activity in the Paducah area. DAVE is primarily responsible for the seizure of narcotics and the forfeiture of assets belonging to drug traffickers. The DAVE unit is staffed by one sergeant, six detectives, and one administrative assistant. The unit partners with the Kentucky State Police Drug Enforcement Special Investigations Task Force and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The efforts work to remove guns and drugs from the streets of Paducah by targeting mid to upper-level drug traffickers preying on our community. In 2011, the partnership with the ATF led to 35 federal indictments in what was labeled "Operation New Day".
In 2012, the unit removed nearly 1800 dozes of prescription drugs off the street in addition to 596 grams of crack, 93 grams of powder cocain, 34 grams of heroin, 140 grams of methamphetamine, and 3925 grams of marijuana. In 2011, the DAVE unit initiated 290 investigations and made 206 drug arrests which is down from the 342 drug-related arrests in 2010. That reduction brings Paducah much closer to the national average for cities our size. Like most other jurisdictions, the largest number of drug offenses are related to marijuana arrests with 58 percent of the arrests in 2011 marijuana-related. The second largest category of arrests in 2011 was crack cocaine with 36 arrests. There were 14 methamphetamine arrests.
In addition to the illicit drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana, the DAVE unit focuses on investigating the abuse of prescription painkillers. The Kentucky Attorney General's Office reports more than 1000 people die in Kentucky each year from prescription drug overdose. As a comparison, 744 people died in motor vehicle collisions in 2012 in Kentucky. In 2013, the DAVE unit expanded by one detective with the sole responsibility of investigating illegal prescription drug abuse cases. The database known as Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER) is an important resource in identifying potential prescription drug abusers.
The DAVE unit also spends time educating patrol officers what to look for on the streets. The DAVE detectives have specialized training in drug detection and investigation, and they share that knowledge with patrol officers during training blocks. The topics covered include search and seizure, drug interdiction and detection, and interview and interrogation techniques.
To educate the public to reduce drug abuse, the Paducah Police Department partners with the Paducah Public Schools in providing two programs: Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE).
Prescription Drug Drop Box
The Paducah Police Department partners with the Kentucky Crime Prevention Coalition and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide a year-round drop box where people can drop off expired or no longer needed medications at the Police Department headquarters located at 1400 Broadway. The box is located in the lobby and accessible during normal business hours. Citizens need only to bring their medications to the lobby of the department and drop them into the designated box. No information is requested, and the police department will properly destroy the medication to ensure that it does not enter the water system or fall in the hands of drug dealers or our children.
Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Initiative
Four Rivers Behavioral Health has been identified as part of a multi-region prescription drug abuse initiative by the Division of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities. As a part of this initiative, focus groups were held with students at various high schools. The focus groups led to the identification of three misperceptions:
- Prescription drugs are safer than illegal or street drugs.
- It’s OK to take someone else’s prescription medication.
- Prescription drugs are not addictive.
It was felt that youth would be able to develop messages that would “speak” to other youth. So the contest asked groups to develop a social marketing message. Paducah Tilgman’s message was believed to be the best and was chosen as the message to publicize. More information can be found on the website Every 14 Minutes. To watch the 30 second public service annoucement produced by Paducah Tilghman High School students in 2011, click Prescription PSA.