In Colorado’s Arapahoe County, the 18th Judicial District Attorney and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office are looking to organize a new drug task force, especially since legalized marijuana was signed into law last year.
The county’s former South Metro Drug Task Force was disbanded in 2012 due to lack of involvement from jurisdictions. A new task force would require a new approach in an effort to stop illegal drug sales.
The new drug task force would be similar to the old one, but it would only include Arapahoe County jurisdictions, not including the Aurora Police Department, which has its own unit. It would also not include the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, which has a similar pattern crimes unit.
The task force’s responsibilities would include wiretaps and undercover work, which many municipalities don’t always have the ability to perform.
Currently, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler says there is no deadline to create the task force, but he would like to see the project completed by the end of this year.
Laws and penalties for drug possession and sales vary by state and drug offense. The state has had to deal with major changes when the legalization of recreational marijuana went into effect.
Opponents of the legalization pointed to a potential increase in drivers operating vehicles under the influence of marijuana. However, a recent Washington Post report stated that Colorado’s highway fatalities are at an almost all-time low.
But marijuana itself isn’t the problem here, said Brauchler. He noted the rise in heroin use in the county.
And although their jurisdiction may be small, Brauchler said he considers drugs like heroin to be a regional issue, which needs a solution across municipalities.
However, Brauchler did say that the recent recreational marijuana legalization could lead people to think that drug laws are more liberal, leading users to try more illicit substances.
But the approach of the task force won’t be to arrest the drugs users themselves. “The goal of this task force is to go after people who create the addicts,” Brauchler said.