Proceeds from recent drug arrests benefit Hurlock Police

HURLOCK — The Hurlock Police Department was the beneficiary of proceeds from recent arrests by members of the Dorchester County Narcotics Task Force that includes officers from Cambridge, Dorchester County, Hurlock Police Department, Maryland State Police, and Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Proceeds from seizures by the Dorchester County Drug Task Force were recently used to purchase laptop computers for five Hurlock police cars. Explaining the program at the May 8 town council meeting were, from left, Hurlock Police Chief Les Hutton, Dorchester County Sheriff James Phillips, and Dorchester County State’s Attorney William Jones.

At the May 8 Hurlock council meeting Hurlock Police Chief Les Hutton said after he and Sheriff Phillips discussed creating a task force, Chief Hutton committed one Hurlock officer to serving with the force. “That’s a big commitment for us,” he said, “but the key to winning any battle is to work as a unit — you have to be one. We’ve had this tremendous relationship with the Sheriff and the City of Cambridge through task force drug enforcement. As a result there are forfeitures and we as a department have never tapped into that. I talked to the Sheriff about that.”

Chief Hutton noted the need for laptop computers in the town’s police cars. Money from the Task Force purchased five laptops for about $5,000 apiece. “That was $25,000 that we did not have to come up with.” He explained the current laptops are “at their bitter end.” He noted increased state regulations requiring information that law enforcement needs at their fingertips. Laptops in the cars provide that information. “But they don’t give us the money to do that. This brings us right up to where we need to be and our officers are safer because of it. I try to have everything on our computers that are on the Sheriff’s computer.”

Sheriff Phillips said, “The continuity of having somebody from all the police departments is very important. The same guy that’s doing heroin in Hurlock is doing it in Cambridge and elsewhere.” A five-month undercover operation netted 28 people who were identified after they sold heroin to an undercover police officer with 18 arrests so far.

“We’ve had dealers from Salisbury, Hurlock, Cambridge, Vienna, and Federalsburg. Don’t get the idea that Cambridge is a bad place because of drug dealers,” said Sheriff Phillips. “They’re everywhere. But because of the continuity of the task force the Cambridge Police Force, the State’s Attorney, Hurlock Police, and ATF, we’ve been very successful in getting these guys arrested. The analysts and investigators continue to look at what type of assets they may have. We’re very fortunate to have a State’s Attorney who’s willing to do the extra step to support us. We file the paperwork, seize the assets, and we’re better able to do our job.”

State’s Attorney William Jones explained, “We take the assets and go to court and try to return equipment and other things back to the community. I understand that for a town the size of Hurlock it’s very difficult to have an officer on the task force and it’s a real investment. I get asked if Hurlock gets its money back and the answer is a loud and clear ‘yes.’ I assure you that the task force is paying dividends back to the Town of Hurlock. The good news about today is that you get to see it in the form of computers.”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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