Editorial: New drug unit encouraging

The Ashland Police Department's new emphasis on drug crimes is a welcome change from what had been a low-priority approach.

Ashland's police force is not large, and its detectives have plenty to keep them busy. Deputy Chief Warren Hensman says the detective division has more than 100 active cases at the moment.

The priority for the Criminal Investigation Division had been crimes against persons. The result was that property and drug crimes got less attention.

Now, a new "problem-solving unit" within the detective division focuses on drugs, fraud and forgery. Anything that could be seen as an "ongoing problem, according to Henselman.

In a college town, drug trafficking is of particular concern. And the two major busts the new unit has made so far show the value of the new approach.

In one search of a residence within walking distance of Walker Elementary School, detectives found heroin, methamphetamine, Xanax pills and psilocybin mushrooms. In the first major bust, a father and son were arrested after neighbors on Morton Street near Ashland High School complained to police. A search warrant turned up methamphetamine and Xanax, a prescription anti-anxiety drug.

What's troubling about these cases is not just that they involve dangerous addictive drugs, but that the seizures were made near schools. What's reassuring is that police are making these cases a priority.

It's also encouraging that one case resulted from neighbor complaints. Drug houses are particularly frustrating for neighbors, and seeing one eliminated will boost public confidence in police.

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