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DRUG TEAM TO BE DISBANDED TO BOLSTER PATROL DIVISION

DRUG TEAM TO BE DISBANDED TO BOLSTER PATROL DIVISION

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A special drug enforcement team of five High Point police officers credited with making 450 drug-related charges in the past six months will be disbanded Friday and returned to the department's understaffed patrol department, Police Chief John Faircloth said Tuesday.

The five officers were given a temporary assignment on the Special Cocaine Apprehension Team in October as part of a statewide law enforcement initiative against crack cocaine.The state Attorney General's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and police and sheriff's departments throughout the state agreed to devote more manpower to reducing drug-related crimes, especially those related to crack cocaine, after a series of meetings on the cocaine problem last fall.

Though the initiative has been successful in High Point, the patrol division has been badly understaffed since the officers were assigned to the drug team, Faircloth said.

``We just did not have the manpower to continue with these assignments,' he said.

Capt. Greg Nicholson of the vice narcotics division said the drug team charged 251 people with drug-related crimes from when it was formed in October through February.

``Getting that amount of arrests and that amount of people charged, you wonder what else you must be missing,' Nicholson said. ``I hate to see it end, but I realize there's a shortage of manpower in patrol.'

Faircloth said he has requested $300,000 in the police budget next year to hire an additional 10 officers: five for a street crimes unit to handle drug-related crimes; two vice/narcotic officers; two officers to oversee drug prevention programs in High Point city schools; and one desk officer.

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