In the last 18 months the area’s drug of choice has been predominately methamphetamine and marijuana.  Unfortunately, an unsettling trend in the last few years in the county has been the uptick in violence related to drug trafficking with teens.
“A majority of the reported robberies, shootings and homicides have been related to teens doing drug “rips” (thefts) from other teens,” said Sgt. Steve Benz, Gardner Police Department public information officer. “We have had area teens involved in these incidents, as both suspects and victims.”
GPD conducted the following:
2017 – 469 Drug related arrests
2018 – 376 Drug related arrests
2019 – 66 Drug related arrests to date (April 30, 2019)
Narcotics warrants served include:
2017-  13 served drug related warrants
2018-  9 served drug related warrants
2019-  4 served drug related warrants to date (April 30, 2019)
“Our Investigations Unit began coordinating drug investigations in 2015, with one of our existing two detectives beginning work on drug cases, in addition to any previous case load,” Benz said. In June/July  of 2016, a third detective was added to the Investigations unit.  “This allowed for more of a focus on drug investigations,” Benz said.
However, from February 7, 2017, through May, 2017, that third detective worked solely on a homicide investigation, Benz continued. ”It should also be noted that our third detective capability was lost for the better part of 2018.  A detective was reassigned to the Patrol Division, due to staffing shortages, from January thru May 2018, and again from September to December 2018.”
In 2017, GPD added a K9 unit – Zeus.
Over the past three years, K9 Zeus had been deployed an average of 103 times per year for narcotics. Most of the narcotic deployments have been open-air sniffs during traffic stops, Benz said.
During the same period,  K9 Zeus has been deployed an average of eight times per year for patrol situations. K9 Zeus has located six suspects during this time.
“K9 Zeus is a vital and integral part of the Gardner Police Department. He and his handler Officer Anderson are both very gifted and committed law enforcement officers, “Benz said.