County sweep

To the Editor:

Most of the community is aware of the recent county-wide drug sweep that took place last week.

While the majority of the media coverage has focused on Bennington I would like to apprise the Manchester residents as to what impact this operation had on Manchester and the surrounding communities.

Before I expound on the event I would like to publicly commend the police officers and dispatchers at the Manchester Police Department. Over the past several months they have worked diligently with the investigators assigned to the task force. Their behind the scene efforts, providing data and logistics have proven valuable results as indicated by the number of individuals arrested. Thank you for a job well done.

Several months ago the department was advised that a sum of money had been appropriated by the Vermont Legislature to investigate and determine the presence of organized gang activity in Bennington County.

The creation of a task force under the direction of the Vermont State Police was established.

Utilizing officers from the Vermont State Police, the Manchester Police Department, the Bennington Police Department, and the Bennington County Sheriff's Department, they have spent the last several months conducting undercover operations throughout the county making purchases of heroin, crack cocaine, and prescription drugs. The total number of people to be arrested totaled 63.

They have done a phenomenal job.

Many of the drugs were purchased from drug dealers located outside of the state of Vermont with known gang affiliations.

While many of the individuals reside within Bennington many of them were selling drugs in or to people from Manchester and other towns.

With today's technology, drugs are seldom sold on street corners. Experienced drug dealers change locations and employ a number of other techniques to avoid detection.

The illegal drug trade wouldn't exist without customers. Many of the people involved in drug sales are in fact addicts themselves who end up selling drugs to support their own habit. If addicts can't fund their addiction with sales they often turn into thieves stealing from family and friends. Burglaries and armed robberies, once rare are now an everyday occurrence.

While the number of people from Manchester included in the sweep (five) appears low compared to Bennington, make no mistake, the demand is here. We certainly didn't get everyone involved and as long as the demand is here, there will be someone who is willing to provide the drugs.

I can't address the specifics of the cases here in Manchester but I can tell you that they all involved the sale of drugs ranging from heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and the sale of prescription drugs.

One thing I can assure you, the Manchester Police are committed to stay the course on this. Our efforts to keep people from peddling poison to our children and friends in the community will not stop here.

The continued collaboration of the police agencies in the county is paramount in keeping the drug problem minimized. Whether you live in Manchester, Dorset, Winhall or Arlington, this problem affects all of us.

I encourage you to discuss the problems plaguing our communities with our lawmakers.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the extremely well organized execution plan for the County Sweep Operation. The Vermont State Police (Department of Public Safety) coordinated over 100 police officers from over 13 different agencies resulting in over 46 arrests with no reported injuries Feel free to contact the Manchester Police Department at 802-362-2022 to report suspected drug activity in our community.

Michael Hall, Chief of Police Manchester


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