By editorial board • 

Disbanding YCINT tolerable, surrendering to dealers not

The head of the Yamhill County Interagency Narcotics Team, Sheriff Tim Svnson, announced this week the drug team was — at least temporarily — ceasing operations. Insiders predicted YCINT’s demise for a long time.

Oregon’s interagency narcotics teams have been struggling to survive, and often failing to do so, throughout the state in recent years.

After Richard Nixon launched his War on Drugs in 1971, and created the Drug Enforcement Agency in 1973, a torrent of federal drug interdiction funds began flowing to states, counties and cities. Ronald Reagan kept the spigot open during his subsequent reign, which included most of the 1980s.

The clamor led Oregon and other states to augment the federal funds with generous contributions of their own. Laws authorizing confiscation of houses, cars and cash deemed proceeds of illegal narcotics trade opened yet another rich vein.   

That led to creation of scores of interagency narcotics teams in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They targeted marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine from the outset, later turning attention to prescription painkillers and street drug alternatives, notably heroin.

The local state police office and county sheriff’s office typically assigned officers, along with the county’s larger city police departments. In YCINT’s case, that meant McMinnville and Newberg-Dundee.

But a ballot measure throttled the seizure flow in 2000. Dwindling drug war enthusiasm and burgeoning support for competing causes began to further pinch funding for participating agencies, to the point where they began to pull out.

First to go were smaller city departments, followed by larger counterparts. Locally, Newberg-Dundee quit partnering with YCINT in 2010, and McMinnville followed suit in 2016, forcing Sheriff Tim Svenson to declare a hiatus.

The team resumed operations with its two remaining partners, the state police and county sheriff’s office, which left it on a short leash.

Earlier this year, the fiscally starved state force began pulling the pin on its participation. When it came YCINT’s turn to lose its OSP commitment, the agency had no choice but to fold the tent.

Marijuana legalization, spawning an expanding network of legal grow operations and street-level dispensaries, no doubt hastened demise of the narcotics team concept.

Oregon was no longer fighting a war on drugs, only a war on specific drugs, blurring lines enough to soften remaining support.

If it’s true that misery loves company, we can take solace in dissolution of the drug teams serving Linn and Lane counties, eight-year disbandment of the team operating in Klamath County, only recently revived, and threatened shutdown of the team in economically depressed Coos and Curry counties.

Maybe the 30-year-old interagency interdiction concept has simply run its course. If public support were sufficient, the agencies surely wouldn’t be so starved for funding.

Be that as it may, the need remains for a continued interdiction. Meth, OxiContin, fentanyl and heroin pose sufficient danger to demand continued vigilance.

If agencies lack the means to coordinate on a routine basis, they will have to cooperate on a spot basis and go it alone between. Ceding the field to dealers is not an option.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable