Editor’s note: In order to protect the identity of a local narcotics officer, no names have been used in this article.
Narcotics officers work hard to get drugs off the streets of Stephenville, but what is the job of a narcotics officer really like? The E-T sat down with one to get the scoop on the Stephenville drug world.
The main drugs present in Stephenville include marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, a variety of pills and more recently, heroin, but this officer has focused the discussion on meth.
“Whatever I say to you to try and make you see how bad meth is, I feel like I will fail,” he said. “I feel like I will fall short. It must be one of the most awful addictions known to man.”
He started as a patrol officer in 1993, joining the narcotics division in 2006 and though he went through specific training for the job, the street is where a lot of the training comes from.
“Just being out on the street when we’re dealing with users and sellers is how we learn what we do because they teach us the terms they use and we learn the pricing of drugs and how it’s packaged,” he said.
There are many dangers associated with the job including incidents that now make it mandatory for those involved in an operation to attend a briefing. The following incident happened in another city.
“There was an undercover that was in the backseat of a car doing a drug deal and the bust signal was given and the team was coming up to make the arrest,” the officer said. “The lieutenant didn’t make the briefing so he came up on the car and sees the (undercover officer) holding a gun and shot his own officer eight times. It was just a horrible situation, but what resulted out of that was that you don’t get to participate in an operation like that unless you make the briefing personally. The lieutenant never saw (the undercover officer’s) face. All he saw was what he thought was a bad guy in the car with a gun.”
Another danger includes being weaponless during drug buys.
“Sometimes undercover cops go and buy dope and they don’t have a gun at all,” the officer said. “There are times you go somewhere and intentionally not wear a gun and go into a place where you know people do have guns. You have to have nerves of steel.”
The officer said it’s rare to see a theft case that isn’t related to drugs in some way in Stephenville.
“Either they’re an addict and the crime is being committed to be able to continue the use of their drug or it’s out of their state of intoxication,” he said. “But meth makes you lose. You lose your health, your family, your friends, your job and your car.”
He said the story with every meth user is almost always the same — they had a life and now it’s gone.
“We see very few success stories especially when it comes to methamphetamine,” he said.
Drug use is not a victimless crime.
“A lot of people believe that, but we see it differently. If you choose to use that drug and accept what it’s going to do to your body, your appearance and your mind, the people who love you — especially the ones living with you — didn’t agree to that,” he said. “A little kid that’s living with meth parents has to live there, they don’t have a choice until CPS, law enforcement or someone intervenes. We’ve been in houses that weren’t fit for an animal and have seen little babies crawling on the floor of a place that we don’t even want to walk in.”
The officer said the reward of the job is difficult.
“When we take a drug dealer off the street hopefully there are some people that may have become addicted to drugs some day that won’t now because we did that, but who knows,” he said. “We feel good when we catch someone selling drugs because we want to stop that person from putting that poison out on the street, but we don’t like seeing people suffer. Even the people we catch. It’s not fun watching another human being suffer and see the consequences that come with this drug.”
The officer said when they’re interviewing some of these drug addicts they can see the good in them.
“You can see what they were and what they could have been,” he said. “You can see the good that has been robbed from them. There are addicts that their life is in complete disaster but when you start talking to them and get to know them you think, ‘man this person could have been a teacher, or this person could have been a lawyer or policeman, there’s good in this person and unfortunately they’re just paying that price.”
If they could get rid of meth specifically, the officer said they could reduce the police force in half.
“Because you’re going to have a lot less burglaries, violent crime, robberies, it is unbelievable how connected the use is with other crimes,” he said. “There’s a lot of pain. There’s a lot of people who have suffered some bad consequences and some that didn’t deserve it. We see kids who have loving parents in a loving home who get into the game, that’s what we call it.”
The officer said his main goal in the narcotics division is to make sure everyone is safe.
“If we have to walk away from a drug deal, we will. There’s always a risk, but if I new someone was going to get hurt, we’re not going to do it,” he said. “We’re cops every day and we’re out there on the street 365 days a year 24-hours a day, the cops are always out and the bad guys are always out so there’s always another day. If something gets a little scary, if we need to we can back it up and run at it another time. I don’t want to get killed over a sack of dope.”
A lot of planning goes into setting up an operation.
“We as a group look at the situation and all talk about the best and safest way to work it with the best outcome,” he said. “Every one of us has input and we’re all watching each other’s back to make sure we’re not missing something.”
Stephenville is not unique in the drugs that are present.
“The drugs we have here are in every little town. I mean that’s the reality,” the officer said. “Whatever drugs are in Fort Worth and Dallas, they’re coming here. There’s no little town in America that’s exempt from all the stuff we’re dealing with.”