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  1. Docta
    It all starts with a thesis statement: Kokomo has lost the war on drugs.
    It’s difficult to deny that things are no better today than they were a dozen years ago. The drug problem is definitely worse than when local law enforcement began attacking it in earnest 40 years ago. No matter the intensity of the effort, people continue abuse drugs -- from marijuana to methamphetamines and everything in between.

    Our culture celebrates drug use through its entertainment media at the same time that it demands that users be locked away or denied public assistance. And the growing dependency of our society on pharmaceuticals as a maintenance medical tool helps blur the line between what is acceptable and what is not.
    How did we get to this point? And how do we get past it? Did something go wrong? Was something missed? Sometimes it helps to retrace steps when looking for a solution.

    Lynn Rudolph was the first Kokomo Police officer assigned to War on Drugs. In 1969, he was assigned to the task of “special investigations” -- a catch-all term that included gathing intelligence on drug use, racial unrest and anythig else that had the potential to fuel criminal activity.
    “I got into drugs because (Chief) Ray Kellar sent me out to talk to a group of people,” said Rudolph. “He sent me because I knew how to spell marijuana. I had been keeping track of the talk on the streets. What drugs they were doing. I spent a lot of time doing that. I had been told who was doing what.
    “I started knowing enough that we could start making cases. But the city wasn’t prepared to make any cases. Nobody had money to purchase information or drugs. It wasn’t even in the budget. I had a meeting with an informant who said I need to talk to some people. She introduced me to Rich

    Worland, Kent Blacklidge and Mike Maher.
    “They were young citizens and had the ability to get ahold of some money. I ran it all down to them but told them there wasn’t a lot we could do. That night, they came up with $1,500 and started a bank account -- the Coffee Pot Fund.”
    From there, Rudolph started making cases as best he could. But drug enforcement isn’t a solo operation. There is far too much risk involved. He was joined shortly after launching the unit by Ralph Stroup, and later Charlie Hackett and Terry Wilson. Bob Sargent oversaw the operation and served as its analyst. The unit grew quickly.

    Hackett was a fresh officer in 1969 -- just two years on the force -- when he became a juvenile officer. Almost simultaneously, he started with with the drug unit on his off hours. His association with the unit would continue until 1977.
    “I began to see things -- men coming home from Vietnam brought with them drug problems,” said Hackett. “Prior to that, most of our drug problems were related to the musical world. Musicians were heavy into it. And that hasn’t changed a lot. With Vietnam, you could see when they came back they had dependency issues.
    “It began to affect the lives of their families, and I would see it as a juvenile officer. But it was a cultural thing. No one was trying to make a lot of money on it yet.

    You had the hippie syndrome. Pot. That culture drew the heavier drugs. The family was breaking, and drugs made it worse.”
    “As time went on, it was obvious that juvenile crime was becoming just as much about drugs and adult crime. I worked afternoon shift. Lynn had been given the responsibility to run a drug unit. I worked the afternoon shift, but most of the drug activity took place in the evening and late night. I began working cases with Lynn after my shift. I was very interested in it. We made some arrests. We worked like that for two years -- from the beginning of 1969 to the end of 1970.”

    It was around that time that federal money became available specifically for drug enforcement. The drug unit won a grant and became a truly multi-jurisdictional unit, covering 13 counties
    “We got two police officers from Logansport, one from Peru, one from Wabash, one from the Nickel Plate railroad,” siad Rudolph. “We put a group together.”
    “We had one from Frankfort; we had a working relationship with Marion; J.D. Beatty was one of the first ones to help us from the sheriff’s department,” added Hackett. “We could work other areas, slip officers into different communities, but you had to be careful because the dealers were mobile. You never knew where they’d show up.”

    The unit quickly outgrew the police department’s confines on North Washington Street. It moved into the sixth floor of the Armstrong Landon building, starting in two rooms, and quickly expanded to the entire south side of the building.
    But it was flawed from the start.
    “We made a conscious decision when we started the drug unit that we weren’t going to arrest users,” said Rudolph. “Users were not our target. The people who sell were our targets. I don’t know if that was the best decision. A large number of users are dealers, too.”
    “That posed a lot of problems because to get someone talking about the drug world, you’ll usually be talking to a user,” said Hackett. “The best pressure to bring a user around is to arrest them. Now you have to educate your department so you’re not making insignificant arrests. There weren’t a lot of people in Kokomo heavy into dealing. The dealing was going back to Texas or Chicago or Detroit. We even had a little situation where there was some coming through the air base.”
    The answer for the drug unit was training and equipment. If the presence of law enforcement wasn’t enough, the war had to escalate. The drug unit obtaining technology that had been seen only in the military back in the early 1970s. Night-vision camera lenses. Portable recording devices and wire transmitters.

    And the officers were sent to every school imaginable, from the FBI academy to pharmaceutical training at Indiana University and everything in between.
    “Lynn sent us to some of the best schools,” said Hackett. “We were constantly updating ourselves on pharmaceuticals. What we were seeing then was quite a bit of speed, mostly prescribed or stolen. They had one called a ‘Black Beauty’ -- a real strong amphetamine that was hot on the market. We had a couple doctors in town distributing diet pills that were amphetamines. They were appetite suppressants, but they also cranked you up.”
    The investment in the drug unit had a trickle down effect to the rest of the department, according to Rudolph. By the time he had put in a couple years in the unit, Chief Earle Howard was ready to expand this new philosophy to other areas. It was a decision that paid amazing dividends for the community, making it one of the safest in the nation.
    “The drug unit did more to change the Kokomo Police Department than anything,” said Rudolph. “The detective division was a disappointment to Earle Howard, who was chief at the time. He needed someone ot manage the investigators. He wanted me to take over the detectives, too. I had anybody who wasn’t in uniform.

    “I said, ‘Yeah I’ll do it if you move the detectives out of City Hall.’ They didn’t have anyplace for evidence or anything. We moved into the building where United Way is now. Everybody got a desk and a car. They got two secretaries. We moved the juvenile division over there.
    “We had the manpower. We had the equipment. We had the facilities. We had everything to respond and be good, and we were good. I laugh today when they say we’re the 54th safest city in the nation. Hell, we were fourth back then.”

    The drug unit also paid off well for its members. The majority of the early team became leaders. Rudolph, Sargent, Hackett, Stroup and Beatty became either police chief or sheriff. The same held true for drug unit officers from Logansport, Peru and Wabash.
    Drug units, traditionally, don’t do really well because it is a world so fraught with lying, cheating and corruption that when you’re in it for a long time, it can rub off on you if you ain’t careful,” said Rudolph. “Drug units don’t usually rise very high in the departments. A lot of people are jealous of them because they got to grow a beard and act the damn fool. They were footloose and fancy-free, and officers get jealous of that. But our drug unit then wasn’t corruptible. They were damn good.”

    Go online this week to read more about some of the early operations of the drug task force. Then come back next week as we explore the next era of drug enforcement in Kokomo, leading up to the 2000 Drug Summit and beyond.

    (Editor’s note: This is the first part of a multi-part series focused on the so-called War on Drugs and how it has played out in Kokomo since it began in 1969. Part of each weekly installment will appear in the Perspective print edition)



  1. Docta
    Re: Kokomo's War on Drugs, Part 1

    Kokomo’s War on Drugs: War Stories (online exclusive)

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25077&d=1331187185 [/imgl]The Kokomo Police Department’s Special Investigations unit found a lot of early success, thanks to a team of remarkable investigators, most of whom went on to lead police departments later in their careers. They were pioneers of a sort, developing the tactics that would guide drug enforcement in Kokomo and the surrounding region for generations of officers.

    Charlie Hackett, former Kokomo Police chief and drug investigator, was one of the youngest members of the unit, which made him a prime candidate for the undercover work necessary to make cases. When they did come across a dealer, in the early days of drug enforcement, it was a different situation than the officers had been accustomed to with other crimes. These criminals didn’t surrender at the sight of a badge or flinch at the sight of a gun.

    “We got a kid in Carroll County -- in high school,” said Hackett. “The superintendent asked to have an officer go to school. As a result, I was over there as a field agent. They wanted to do a buy and bust on the kid. He was selling a lot of pot. The bust comes down, and I flash the badge. I had my Smith & Wesson Model 60 snub-nose revolver, which I pulled on him while we’re sitting in the car.
    “He had a shoulder rig with a semi-automatic Barreta. I told him, ‘You’re busted’ and read him his rights. All the time I’m doing this, he’s sneaking his hand under his coat. I said, ‘You’ve got to be crazy with what you’re thinking. I’m going to kill you at this range.’
    “He has this look in his eye, I swear he’s going for it. I cocked the hammer, and he pulled his hand back. That’s when it got serious. Up until that time, if you had your gun out, the hippies would back up. Now they expected you to be armed and show it. It got profitable, and there were people getting involved who weren’t just users.”

    This was the early 1970s. The drug trade -- as a profession -- in this area was in its infancy, evolving from something embraced only by the fringes of society into a lucrative business endeavor. It required the officers to be inventive in their undercover ruses and to be wary of potentially disastrous circumstances that could arise without warning.

    This was especially true when dealing with informants. Pinching a user and getting him or her to reveal details about drug operations gave the officers a new perception of crime.
    “What the drug unit did is, if you start using informant and making a controlled buy or working undercover, you begin to pick up real quick that what you saw as your enemy wasn’t near as complicated as you thought it was,” said Hackett. “They’re a bunch of idiots, subject to make mistakes. It’s getting to see criminals on the inside. That adds a dimension to your understanding and training.”

    The demystifying of the drug trade emboldened the officers to take more aggressive actions against the dealers, and addiction was a key tool in making the cases. Hackett explained that a “junkie” was the dealer’s worst enemy, as his addiction made compromising an operation a simple task.
    “We got a junkie working some cases for us,” said Hackett. “He went from not willing to wear wire to wanting to take a known officer into the building. He’s hurting so bad he’d do anything. I told him, ‘They know me. They know I’m a police officer. I don’t think they’re going to sell to me.’ He told me, ‘no, we can to this. I’ll work something out.’ That’s what we were seeing. You get a junkie in the room, and he’ll snitch out everybody in the world.”

    That willingness to tell all can be a double-edged sword, however, as Hackett and fellow undercover officer Terry Wilson discovered.
    “Terry Wilson and I had moved to Monticello into a place on the lake and went about buying drugs,” said Hackett. “We even got jobs over there. Worked at a little wiring factory and got ourselves fired, which is what we wanted. The place had a drug problem. We played hard and roughed up the foreman. We’re in the midst of a third of them being druggers, and half of those selling. We got accepted in real quick. And Terry and I made some pretty good cases.

    “But there was one time where we nearly had a big problem. Terry and I were working undercover in Monticello, and one of our snitches shows up. The guy we’re working says he has someone coming over with a load of acid to sell. Little purple tablets. We said we’d wait on him. But when he gets there, it was one of our snitches from a case in another town.
    “This guy comes in and is terrified. Says he doesn’t have any of the stuff on him. When he leaves, the other guy wonders what the heck is wrong. I said I used to belong to a motorcycle gang and thought I’d seen him somewhere before. I had his phone number, so as soon as I got out of there, I’m on the phone to him.

    “He’s not answering. Finally I told his old lady to have him call me or I’ll be there. He calls me and I tell him if I hear one word about us, I’ll have him in jail for intent to sell. I told him he best not open his mouth or something terrible would happen to him. He never snitched or came around that area.”

    There was another aspect about informants that drug enforcement officers needed to discover the hard way. Sometimes, the most helpful snitches weren’t really helping the officers at all.
    “We had one guy come into the office one time and say he wanted to help clear up drugs,” said Hackett. “And we did. As we moved along making the cases, we’re busting some pretty significant people. Then we find out this guy is turning us onto his competition. He was a bigger dealer than they were. That still happens.”

    The undercover officers also had other worries. Entering a world fraught with crime, making drug buys, flashing money around, they became targets of robbers. Suddenly, having a cover blown had a dangerous playmate. This caused a shift in the way that the unit conducted their investigations. Undercover officers started working in pairs or with a surveillance team in close proximity.

    But none of this would have been possible without the extraordinary cooperation that took place between law enforcement agencies across the 13 counties the special investigations unit served. It wasn’t always a friendly relationship, but the cause kept everyone knit tightly together.
    “We had great cooperation between agencies,” said Hackett. “It wasn’t like we got along really well. The sheriff and the chief weren’t skipping down the road together, hand-in-hand. Everything was OK. We had one cause. We thought we were doing good things for the community -- the things that make you become a police officer.”

    (Editor’s note: This is a continuation of the first installment of the Perspective’s “War on Drugs” series, which appeared in print on Wed., March 7, 2012.)

  2. Docta
    Re: Kokomo's War on Drugs, Part 1

    Kokomo’s War on Drugs: Drug Summit woes

    [imgl=white] https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25077&d=1331187185[/imgl]Craig Dunn, investment advisor at Liberty Financial, was asked to be a part of the Drug Summit held in the summer of 2000. The experience was an eye-opener for him, as his exposure to the drug problem had been minimal to that point. Dunn agreed to co-chair the committee after sitting through the first two sessions.

    It was then that he found out that drugs were more than just a problem in Kokomo and Howard County they were an epidemic that was poised to grow exponentially.
    “The moment I remember most was the night that (former Kokomo Police Chief) Charlie Hackett came in and told us that for the very first time they had discovered a meth lab in Howard County,” said Dunn. “The first time. How many times has that happened since? It has gotten worse.”

    Dunn said the growth of the drug problem shouldn’t be surprising, considering how the nation’s economy functions.
    “We have an economy that leaves people with no skills, no education and no training behind,” said Dunn. “And those people haven’t been particularly motivated to go get those skills or training, or maybe the jobs aren’t there. So, they take the easy path and sell drugs.”

    One of the solutions the drug summit attempted to promote was the concept of employee drug testing. Not only did that effort fail horribly, it approached the problem from the wrong angle, he contended.
    Drug testing was terribly frustrating,” said Dunn. “One of our focuses was to try to get businesses to agree to test employees for drugs. Our company signed on. The Perspective signed on. Mike’s Pizza. A lingerie shop, oddly enough. And some of the other companies were already doing drug testing and still do to this day.
    “We thought if we drug tested and made people believe that if they didn’t stay clean they wouldn’t have a job ... we were trying to wag the dog. Now they can’t get a job, so what do they do? They go sell drugs.”

    The drug summit obviously wasn’t overly popular among those immersed in the drug culture. In fact, Dunn gained some unwanted attention because of his role as co-chair.
    “I had death threats while I was serving on the drug summit,” said Dunn. “I turned those over to the police. They weren’t very good about it, either. We pretty much knew who it was. We were after drug paraphernalia at that point. The guy would hand-write these notes, threatening me, and then would write a hand-written note about not patronizing my business, and put that in the window of his business. The handwriting matched. It really wasn’t tough and didn’t take a lot of law enforcement investigation to figure out who it was.”

  3. Docta
    Kokomo’s War on Drugs: Mixed Messages

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25077&d=1331187185 [/imgl]Tom Kelley spent 10 years in the Kokomo Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit -- from 1993-2003. When he started, crack cocaine was the drug of choice. By the time he left the unit to resume work as a detective, the spectre of methamphetamines had cast a shadow over the community.

    What confounded him was the inconsistency with which the community approached the drug problem. On the surface, leaders and citizens voiced support for a hard-line approach, but when it came down to taking action, the walk didn’t match the talk.
    “I used to be on the Red Cross board of directors, and it is a wonderful organization,” said Kelley. “There was a family that had come to town from Illinois and set up a big drug house in the 900 block of North Main Street. There were like nine or 10 family members living there. They were all dealing crack. You could go there and buy crack. You could smoke it there or take it with you.

    “We’d blown the place up twice with search warrants and locked up dozens of the family members off and on for various offenses. Then, one day, the place catches fire. It burned most of the second floor. The family goes to the Red Cross for help, and they put the family up in a hotel, get them clothes, and do all kinds of things for all of them.

    “I’m at one of the board meetings, and I explain the situation to them. We’ve done everything as a law enforcement agency to make these people unwelcome in our community, and now the local Red Cross puts them up in a hotel, gives them vouchers to eat and clothes to wear when we should be running them out of town. It was our big chance as a community to say, ‘Enough. We don’t want these people here.’ The board voted me down. The Red Cross helps anyone who needs it, and I understand that.”

    A similar experience met the drug task force members when corporate American got involved in the war on drugs. The Kokomo unit teamed with Chrysler Corp. in 1998 to stage one of the largest drug busts in the community’s history -- Operation: DeSoto. It was a multi-jurisdictional investigation focused on drug abuse within Chrysler’s plants in the city, and it netted an enormous number of users and dealers.

    And at the same time it was a monumental failure, according to Kelley.
    “Operation: DeSoto was a huge drug bust, and you know what? Almost all but two of those people got their jobs back,” said Kelley. “Again, how serious are we about solving the problem? We did that operation with Chrysler’s cooperation. They provided us with undercover officers to work inside the plants. How much did it mean?

    “My point is, where do we draw the line? We had a chance to speak out and say we don’t want dope dealers here, but we chose not to. So, how committed are we to solving the problem, really? I’d have to say not very.”

    Commitment to the cause is an important theme in the ongoing war on drugs. Within law enforcement, the dedication is there, even though some of them believe they’re fighting a losing battle. Michael Holsapple is one of those who saw an inherent problem. Holsapple once led the KPD’s Special Investigations Unit.
    “I was watching television news, and a little blurb comes across the screen -- ‘Snoring in children in linked to behavioral and emotional problems,’” said Holsapple. “Waging war on drugs makes about as much sense as waging war on snoring.

    “Frankly, you won’t be surprised that I am in agreement with your thesis; the way we have conducted (the war on drugs) it is a lost cause. It is an inappropriately waged effort, and we should look for some alternatives. Segments of our society are beginning to do that.”
    That said, there was much about the battling the drug problem that paid dividends to the greater law enforcement effort. Other law enforcement officials spoke about the advent of new technology that funneled from the military to drug enforcement to everyday police work. They spoke about the leadership that emerged from Kokomo’s drug task force. And Holsapple conceded that officers spending time in the unit became better at their jobs.

    “The process that makes you a good drug investigator makes you good at finding a missing woman,” said Holsapple. “There are positive by-products, but the cost is enormous. Over the years, everyone began to recognize these things. Tom Kelley and I used to have philosophical discourses over this.
    “Increasingly, you hear people acknowledge that we are never going to arrest our way out of the problem. Those comments represent a growing recognition. Then, why are we trying? We need to change direction.”

    Like earlier iterations of Kokomo’s drug task force, the Holsapple/Kelley-led version racked up some impressive victories. They chased the drug trade in Kokomo up the ladder to places like Harvey, Ill., and Detroit, and they were successful in capturing a few dealers that were “heavy hitters” -- men who would rank among a mythical “Fortune 500” of drug traffickers nationally.

    And when these collars were made, the crack cocaine supply chain was disrupted. Unfortunately, methamphetamines and
    prescription opiates were there to fill the void.
    Prescription drug abuse is a silent scourge, compared to other drugs. Users and dealers don’t have to worry about shipments coming in from out of town. The number of dealers isn’t limited by who has connections to a larger supply chain. A prescription dealer is as easy to find as a medicine cabinet or an accommodating physician with a liberal prescription pad.

    Another difference in this market, Kelley explained, is cost. Prescription opiates, such as hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin), are purchased at retail prices if they aren’t stolen from a legitimate, therapeutic user, such as a family member.
    But when the national economy entered a recession from 2000-2003, drug users switched their substance of choice.
    “So many people jumped over to meth as a substitute to opiate,” said Kelley. “When they could afford $40-$50 for an OxyContin, they’d do that, but when they only have $5-$10, they get a hit of meth. Those people were easy to find because they were always dealing at some level, and we were able to interact with them through informants.”

    Meth was a new war for the Special Investigations Unit, and a deadly one. The chemicals used to make the drug are volatile, poisonous, flammable. Reports of police officers dropping dead after exposure to a leaking tank of anhydrous ammonia were joined by stories of clandestine meth labs exploding in the middle of residential communities.

    This was a problem no local law enforcement unit was equipped to handle. The Indiana State Police formulated its own task force to handle meth labs, and legislators quickly developed laws to assist in the effort to end this new and dangerous drug market.

    In those early days, the Kokomo drug task force came up with its own tool, grounded in education -- Meth Watch.
    “It’s a program where we work with local pharmacies; it was Jeff McKay’s idea,” said Kelley. “At the time, there was no central reporting. He went out and talked to pharmacists and built relationships with them so they’d pick up the phone and call him about people purchasing large amounts of precursors. He’d go out and pick up the reports and run down the suspects. It was effective.

    “The intelligence Jeff brought us through Meth Watch helped us build cases. The precursor laws didn’t exist at that time. This allowed us to go out and pop people.”

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