Daily News photo/ALY GIBSON Rotary President Bob Wagel stands with Cass County Drug Enforcement Team Detective Sgt. David Toxopeus and Undersheriff Rick Behnke after Rotary Thursday.

Archived Story

Continuing the war on drugs

Published 5:42pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Cass County Drug Enforcement Team wants to continue the war on drugs in the county with the help of a .5-millage proposal up for  renewal on the Aug. 7 ballot.

During the regular meeting of the Dowagiac Rotary Club Thursday, Det. Sgt. David Toxopeus presented an in-depth overview of just what the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team (CCDET) does each day.

Since the team’s inception in 2005, the members have strived to end the string of drug-related crimes and abuse that have entered into the county. From the investigation, detection and clean up of methamphetamine labs to the arrests of offenders, the CCDET approached the drug issue head-on.

The Aug. 7 ballot will include a millage renewal for the team of one-half of mill, which Toxopeus said helps them do much more than many think.

“I don’t know if we can win the war on drugs nationally,” Toxopeus said. “But we can win it here in the county.”

In the last four years, Toxopeus and his team detected and dismantled 109 operational meth labs in the county. Among other tasks, the millage helps the team complete is the drug drop-off location, which takes anything from residents besides liquids and needles.

According to Toxopeus, Family Courts Judge Sue Dobrich said her court increased by 127 percent due to the cases CCDET brought in. Drug-related crimes often involved parents whose children were often subjected to the behavior.

“Many of those cases came from agency cooperation,” Toxopeus said, citing 38 cases where 78 children were removed from the drug environment.

Other cases, Toxopeus reported, were solved with the help of informants. Many offenders Toxopeus and his team members arrested often formed relationships that would help CCDET track down and arrest criminals, such as Jaren Wade, who was recently sentenced to life in prison without parole for first-degree murder.

Fred Mathews, who attended Rotary Thursday to hear the presentation, said the only issue he has with the millage renewal for the team is that it’s too low.

“It should be 1 mill so they can do an even better job,” Mathews said.

Wagel said the team’s millage proposal is important for citizens to vote on, too.

Toxopeus said the team has never lost a drug case in circuit court and he hopes they can continue to do the work they’ve done for the county.

“We’re asking you to vote Aug. 7,” he said.

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