NORWICH – Arrests for criminal possession or criminal sale of a controlled substance within the City of Norwich more than doubled in the last year, according to the recently released Norwich Police Department annual report.
Based on the report, there were 47 arrests in 2013 for either criminal possession or criminal sale of a controlled substance. Last year, 97 drug arrests were made by the NPD.
Norwich Police Chief Rodney Marsh attributes this rise in arrests to the many traffic stops made by the patrol officers.
Additionally, in 2013, there was no Narcotics Detective. In 2014, the Norwich Common Council approved a full-time Narcotics Detective once again.
Marsh said the patrols are out on the streets both day and night. During the course of traffic stops, there are occasions when controlled substances are found.
The police chief additionally credited the increase in arrests to the narcotics detective who acquires search warrants and makes multiple drug arrests in one search.
Marsh explained this can also be the case with traffic stops, as sometimes at one traffic stop, there are multiple people in possession of illegal substances.
With regard to the illegal substances seized, Marsh said they are most commonly heroin, cocaine and prescription medications.
“The Norwich Police Department does a great job making arrests to get the out-of-town drug dealers,” said Chenango County District Attorney Joseph A. McBride. “This is hopefully making a great impact.”
Unlawful possession of marijuana violations also increased from 2013 to 2014.
In 2013, there were 47 violators. Last year, 72.
Marsh said the marijuana possessions mostly stem from traffic stops by patrol officers. “We have officers out there who know their area well, and during stops they find marijuana,” he said.
While a decrease was seen in driving while intoxicated arrests, Marsh attributed that to the funding at the year-end. Marsh explained there was no funding for extra DWI patrols at the end of 2014. DWI arrests went from 26 in 2013 to 18 in 2014.
When asked why the arrests for possession of a hypodermic instrument significantly decreased from 2013 to 2014, Marsh said it related to a recent change in the law. The number of criminal arrests by the NPD for possession of a hypodermic instrument went from 23 in 2013 to only eight in 2014.
According to Marsh, the law was changed to help curb the spreading of diseases including Hepatitis C and HIV. Marsh said that now if an individual is in possession of a syringe from either a local needle exchange or a reputable provider, it is legal. He said this is to attempt to stop life-threatening diseases from spreading that go along with sharing hypodermic needles.
An additional factor in the increase of NPD drug arrests was the addition of a second K9, named Nitro. The department now has a K9 working the day shift and a K9 on the night shift. Marsh added that the K9s greatly assist in the discovery of not only marijuana, but also other controlled substances during traffic stops and the execution of search warrants.
Criminal nuisance arrests doubled from 2013 to 2014. Marsh explained that one is arrested for criminal nuisance when setting up a residence where people can use illegal drugs. He attributed this increase to search warrants executed after investigations by the Narcotics Detective.
Marsh added that the average age range for those arrested for drug possession in 2014 was between 25 and 29 years of age.
The chief said both the patrol officers and the Narcotics Detective work very closely with the Chenango County District Attorney’s Office. Marsh said if an arrested individual is held pending arraignment, the desk Sergeant on duty will contact the DA to seek a bail recommendation.
A Sergeant with the NPD explained that a call is made to the DA and the crime is described. Depending on the severity of the crime, the DA will provide the police with the recommended bail to pass along to the judge. The judge takes the recommendation into consideration, but the decision of whether or not bail is set is ultimately up to the presiding judge.
A bust that occurred in June of last year resulted in the arrest of three individuals. The Narcotics Detective concluded an investigation into the sales of narcotics within the City of Norwich and a search warrant was executed on Mechanic Street. Nearly $6,000 worth of heroin and crack cocaine were seized in addition to $1,500 in currency.
In May 2014, the Narcotics Detective concluded an investigation into the sale of narcotics within the city and two search warrants were executed. A ‘no knock’ warrant was executed on Fair Street at the same time a search warrant was executed on two individuals and their vehicle on Rexford Street. Individuals were taken into custody and 129 ‘double bagged’ envelopes of heroin were confiscated as evidence. According to the NPD report, the heroin had a street value of more than $5,100.
Another investigation resulted in an execution of a search warrant on State Street in Norwich, where three individuals were arrested and charged will the sale of narcotics. One of the individuals had ties to the New York City area. More than $2,230 in cash was confiscated, in addition to heroin and crack cocaine with a street value of more than $4,450.
After hearing drug arrests more than doubled in the city, McBride said, “This should let them know that if they come here to sell drugs, they will get caught.”
“We can’t let this community go down the tubes,” said McBride. “It needs to be a safe place for residents to raise their children. Getting the drugs off the streets and the dealers in jail is a positive step for a safe city.”