Our month long series, "Taking Action Against Violence" takes us to Millcreek Township where police have created a special operations unit to focus on a growing drug problem. Police Chief Tom Carlotti tells us he's seen a dramatic increase in drug dealing and related crimes, in the three and a half years he has been chief. The special task force has been in place only four months and it's already making a dent in drug activity.
Carlotti asked the Millcreek Board of Supervisors to relax restrictions on overtime for the patrol division, so that he could detach three officers to zero in on the drug problem. Two major areas of concern, motels along the West 8th street corridor, and the Grenada housing complex. Carlotti says some dealers have been setting up shop in township motel rooms, and that has triggered many related crimes nearby, including thefts from cars and homes. He says addicts were committing robberies and burglaries to get anything they could trade for drugs.
In the Grenada Apartments, police say the number of calls for assaults, thefts and other disputes have jumped from 250 a year to nearly 600 a year.
Since the special drug unit started its work in June, police have already made 53 drug arrests - 13 of those felony level, taken $20,000 in drug money off the street and 20 weapons.