CAIRO, Ga. — For the first time in 10 years, Grady County will have a dedicated drug task force.
The new unit, which Sheriff Harry Young said is dearly needed to combat drug dealers, will begin operations January 1.
“If we’re going to protect this county the way it should be protected, we need a drug squad,” Young said at a recent meeting of the Grady County Board of Commissioners.
Grady County was once a member of the multi-county Southwest Georgia Drug Task Force for more than a decade before departing that group in 2009. Young said this time the unit will operate under his own supervision.
Capt. Chris Luckey, who is slated to head the new unit as its commanding officer, said its formation is a much-needed boon for the county.
“I’m definitely more than happy to accept the position and I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running,” he said.
One of the primary goals of the new unit is to work with citizens, whether from Grady County or not, to identify narcotics distributors. Individuals can even provide tips anonymously.
“We’re going to be open to any intelligence reports that they may provide,” Luckey said.
Drug-related crimes are on the rise in southwest Georgia, and members of Drug Free Grady have called for the formation of a designated task force to take down distributors.
Talk of a new drug squad first surfaced within the sheriff’s office late last year, when Young hinted that a new unit consisting of three to four officers was in the works, but a lack of funds and manpower presented obstacles.
The county lent Young a hand when it budgeted $1.7 million for the sheriff’s office in fiscal year 2020. That includes room for Young to hire a new deputy and investigator.
If the new task force is going to succeed, Young figures it will need more manpower, likely three full-time investigators to ensure someone is always available when there’s trouble afoot.
“When we get a call at 3 o’clock in the morning that something’s going down over here, we need to get there,” Young said. “If we’ve got somebody coming into the county and we’ve got a description of the vehicle, we’ve got to be there to intercept it.”
Most crimes in the county are linked to drugs in some way or another, Young said, and all of his investigators have been involved in drug-related investigations at some point. The sheriff’s office has several investigators who primarily focus on drug crimes, including Luckey, but they can be pulled to work on other cases as the need arises.
Luckey said the most difficult aspect of working investigations is having to juggle between general crimes and narcotics cases.
“It’s just not an effective procedure to be involved in investigating burglaries and molestations and anything of that magnitude and then have to switch over and work a drug case,” he said. “Drug investigations are way more time consuming with surveillance operations and narrowing down individual targets and information.”
With the new task force, investigators can remain focused on taking down distributors.
Last month the sheriff’s office brought down four of the county’s biggest drug dealers, and Young said his office was likely to see more headway with the introduction of the new unit.
“We’re making a big difference,” the sheriff said. “We’re going to make even more of a difference starting in the next month or two.”