Beginning early Tuesday morning, local law enforcement officials, along with UNITE task force officers, hit the streets, hollows and highways in a blitzkrieg round of abrupt wake-up calls.
Sometimes, according to Paul Hays, UNITE deputy director of law enforcement, a rude awakening is exactly what it takes to make those heavily involved in drug activity willing to shake off the foggy stupor they have been living under.
"Bottom line is," Hays said, "we really want to help these people. We offer treatment to everyone that comes through. Not only that, but we pay for it, even long term...because some of these people have problems that just aren't going to be resolved in a matter of a few weeks."
As suspects were led, handcuffed, into the courtroom by state troopers, county deputies and city police officers, Dan Smoot, UNITE law enforcement director, noted that the drug task force holds round-ups such as this "about three times a month in a 29-county area."
Smoot, along with Ian Dalrymple, UNITE Big Sandy task force manager, explained the importance of working closely with local law enforcement officials in a joint effort to rid the area of drugs. "Our goal," said Dalrymple, "is to stamp out drug use and abuse in southeastern Kentucky. It's a common goal and we all work together on achieving it."
Since such a large number of suspects were being brought in at one time, Dalrymple explained that the spaciousness afforded in the fiscal court courtroom would help expedite the process. Suspects were interviewed, photographed and fingerprinted in the courtroom, then escorted by law enforcement officers to a jail cell in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center.
"It's hard, sometimes, to have sympathy for drug offenders," commented Hays, "but you have to realize that they really can't see when they're in the midst of the storm. And this is what we have to do, take them down, arrest them, open their eyes, and then, maybe, you can help them."
A listing of those arrested in Tuesday's round-up was unavailable at presstime but will appear in a later edition.