South Shore drug task force, SLEDNET, dissolved
A multi-agency drug task force on the South Shore has been dissolved due to staffing shortages and other priorities from participating parties, reported South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler.
The South Lake El Dorado Narcotic Enforcement Team (SLEDNET) was established in 1988, and over the years has included personnel from agencies on both sides of the state line.
In 2014, SLEDNET had resources from the California Department of Justice, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, El Dorado Sheriff’s Office, El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, and El Dorado County Probation Department.
However, that same year the California Department of Justice decided to reassign personnel from SLEDNET “to other state priorities,” said Uhler.
“Most recently, for over a year, the only agencies providing people for SLEDNET has been the SLTPD and El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department. With the significant reduction in assigned personnel, the operational effectiveness of SLEDNET was diminished as major drug investigations require large numbers of law enforcement officers for things like surveillance, drug raids, etc.,” explained Uhler.
“Last month, the El Dorado County Sheriff made the difficult decision to no longer support SLEDNET with assigned personnel, leaving only the SLTPD as a participating agency.”
With only one agency involved, the task force had to be dissolved.
El Dorado County will continue undercover narcotics enforcement work through a county-led task force on the west slope, while the two SLTPD officers from the former task force have been reassigned to a detective unit with a partial focus on crime related to drugs.
“In the event a large-scale drug investigation is necessary in the future, the SLTPD and El Dorado Sheriff are committed to pool resources to ensure we still have the capacity to do this important work,” noted Uhler.
“Unfortunately, there is a serious problem with drugs in South Lake Tahoe. We see direct connections with drug abuse and crime.”
Uhler pointed to “significant statewide pressures to lower the priority of drug enforcement work,” like Prop. 47, which reduced many drug felonies to misdemeanors or the equivalent of a ticket.
“Just a few years ago, there were over 50 drug task forces in the state and now there are about a dozen,” continued Uhler.
“These misdemeanors are understandably given lower levels of priority within the other cogs of the criminal justice system (prosecution and courts), leaving those who choose to use drugs with little in the way of consequences until they suffer a serious medical problem or are caught for a crime with teeth,” said Uhler.
“Our citizens experience the fallout of this decriminalization every day.”