The roundup of more than 30 suspects recently in a county-wide drug sweep is more than enough evidence that Warren County has a drug problem.
Ask any law enforcement official and they will tell you that such sweeps never completely eradicate the problem; at best they put a temporary crimp in the flow of illegal drugs to users.
Nevertheless, without that operation, the distribution of illegal drugs would have gone unabated.
The news that the City of Warren Police Department is pulling out of the Warren County Drug Task Force is disturbing on its surface, but look below the surface and you'll find the systemic problem that led to that decision.
The Warren PD would absolutely love to arrest as many drug offenders as it can get its cuffs on, but it wants to have a high degree of confidence that those arrests will lead to convictions. Let's face it, dismissed drug cases are not only frustrating and waste resources, but in some cases improve the ability of offenders to avoid prosecution in the future.
The city department's concern is the loss of the county detective, whose job it was to coordinate and oversee the county task force. Without that leadership, experience and coordination, the chances of mistakes that can lead to case dismissals increase.
There is no rancor in the city's position, and Police Chief Ray Zydonik intimated the city could rejoin the force if the county gets "a better handle on things."
John Herzog was a real find, a retired veteran of the state police, who essentially functioned as a full-time detective without requiring the benefits of a full-time position.
On Thursday, the county posted the position as part-time - better than nothing.
While we can appreciate the county commissioners' frugality, and we can hope that another detective can be found within the parameters of Herzog's arrangement, we believe that this county deserves a full-time lead investigator. We believe that given the extent of the county's drug problem, as well as other investigative responsibilities, the extra funding required for a full-time position would be money well spent.
Drug abuse has far-reaching impacts in a community, many of them more subtle than its promotion of other crimes.