NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The scene in North Little Rock, on the edge of town, just another day in the officer for Pulaski County’s Narcotics Unit. Granted, it was one of the larger operations it has pulled off, targeting four houses identified as drug hubs in the county.
Lieutenant Robert Garrett works undercover at the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, and some days he said the job can feel like Vegas. At the time, he was driving the Working 4 You crew to the first of the four homes.
“It’s a gamble sometimes you actually get what you’re looking for. More times than not you don’t,” he said. “Your goal is to get the drug dealers, because if you can take them out of the chain for a bit, you might be able to have an impact. If you target the drugs in the house, there will be more to take its place.”
Thursday, the coordinated raid came together quickly, working off information four homes were stocked with meth or crack on a regular basis.
“The whole goal is about safety and quality of life,” Garrett said. “You may not be participating in the drug activities, but your neighbor might be. And your neighbors’ customers aren’t going to care about you at all. There’s an awful lot of citizens out here who don’t want this in their neighborhood but they’re kind of held prisoner.”
The prisoners Thursday were the nine people arrested on a variety of charges, including weapons, parole revocations, narcotics and stolen property. Some of the faces are neither unknown nor unfamiliar.
“I don’t know if it’s that the prison systems is so overcrowded that they can’t hold them in there or what,” Garrett said. “You know you’ve arrested somebody. You know they’ve been convicted. You know they’ve been sentenced, and six months to a year later you run into them again.”
According to Garrett, and other officers we spoke with, oftentimes these dealers are working with family members in a family business style format. Brothers, cousins, aunts and mothers will all be involved. In fact, children were at one of the homes when the raid occurred.
“It can be hard to get them to change their ways if that’s all they know,” Garrett said. “Greed can be a powerful motivator, and if your second or third generation, it can be difficult to steer away from that.”
The efforts continue, though, even if the same arrests will happen weeks or months down the road, because citizens continue to deal with the fallout of crime that comes with the drug dealers’ territory.
“This is not one of the battles you win overnight,” Garrett said. “But the community members who are calling in and want things changed, they need to know their complaints aren’t falling on deaf ears. We’re making a serious effort to address these types of activities. We need people to understand that we have laws we have to abide by, constitutional concerns that we have to respect, and it may take us time to build a case against someone.”
As sun set on Thursday, days of preparation ended in a perp walk. The operation was deemed a success, with no injuries to anyone involved, including the suspects.
“Day after day, year after year, retirement after retirement, there’s always somebody here fighting this fight,” he said. “And we’ll keep fighting it.”
In all likelihood, another tip will lead to another investigation…tomorrow.
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