A Game of Cat and Mouse
The detectives said it takes a unique competitive nature to work narcotics.
“It takes a special breed of person to want to do this, to put the time in, the effort in because there is a lot of work. There is a lot of surveillance time, paperwork. You have to deal with a lot of people you don’t want to deal with on a daily basis, but you have to.”
DeMoss and Wall described drug investigations as a game — a game where officers and offenders know their roles well.
“For me personally, it is a game. They are trying to outsmart you to either sell their drugs, or stay in possession of their drugs, or do whatever they have to do to make their money,” Walls said.
DeMoss said getting up close and personal with offenders trying to elude arrest can be an adrenaline rush.
“There are several moments in these investigations where we might be face to face with a drug dealer, and we know we may not be arresting them at that moment, but they know and we know what is going on. They know that we are hitting them, that we are out to get them, and we know that they are playing a game,” DeMoss said. “Those are the times that get us going.”
The detectives said there are times when the opportunity to make an arrest on a known drug dealer presents itself, but if the charges are relatively petty, the detectives will wait for a future date to arrest the suspect on charges that will result in a stronger case for prosecutors and a longer sentence.
“There is a patience level that has to go along with it, and that is one of the hardest things that we have to fight in house amongst ourselves — to be able to slow ourselves down and make sure we are following procedure and getting all the information that is prevalent.”
There are times when the police also needs the public to be patient.
The detectives said information received from citizens, such as a resident who thinks illegal activity could be taking place on their street, is vital to building investigations, but the public must realize the wheels of justice can turn slowly.
“Sometimes the public, they think, ‘We know they are dealing drugs there. Go kick the door down and stop them,’” Walls said.
Walls and DeMoss said it is rarely that simple.
“Some of these investigations take a lot of time. We have to jump through a lot of hoops to get a good case and make it to where we can get a search warrant or make arrests stick,” DeMoss said. “Sometimes we may get information on somebody, and the investigation may last a couple of months before we get our ducks in a row, before we are able to find the right informant or are able to get all the information to put the puzzle together.”
Walls said patience on behalf of the department and the community is needed to be sure the offenders are not able to reduce their charges and their sentences during prosecution.
“We are making sure when we do go to court, they are doing time. There is no way out of it. There is no grey area because we are going to have them,” DeMoss said.
DeMoss said by officers not acting too quickly, an investigation can reap higher yields.
“We don’t want to rush in to something because we may be able to get this guy here, but if we spend another couple of days investigating it, we could have actually got him and the guy above him,” he said.