Sheriff Franklin speaks to Titus residents

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Sheriff Bill Franklin (left) and Lt. David Slay, discuss the state of crime in the county with residents of Titus at the Titus Community Center.

Titus residents like Phillip Kelley are interested in educating community members and utilizing the Titus Community Center to make it happen.

“We are making efforts to host speakers in Titus who can deliver common interest topics at our quarterly meetings,” Kelley said. “It is a good way to get more people in our community tuned in.”

The community’s guest speaker for October was Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin and two officers in the Elmore County Drug Task Force, Lt. David Slay and Sgt. Luke Reaves.

The three law enforcement officers explained the current state of narcotics use the officers are facing today on the streets and what specific crimes are increasing.

“Our job in the last three to four months is getting tougher because we have drug dealers who will not sell in Elmore County,” Reaves said. “We hear it is too hot in Elmore County for these folks to sell. We could not be like that if we could not pursue drugs like this. I do not want this stuff here anymore than you do. I want them out of the county if that is what they choose to do.”

The task force spends a lot of time gathering information from people when end up in county jail, according to Reaves.

“We do a lot of interviews,” he said. “Everyone who is arrested is interviewed. Intelligence and information is what we live off of. If we did not have the bad guys telling us who they are getting their drugs from, we would be terrible at our job.”

According to Reaves, the drugs they are seeing on the street are the same, but the purity is much higher. 

“I don’t think we have sent any meth off to the lab this year and gotten it back below 94% pure,” he said. “It used to be 50 to maybe 60% pure when we were dealing with shake-and-bake labs or one-pot labs here in the county.”

According to Reaves, the DEA conducts purity tests for Elmore County. Some of the test results have come back as high as 98%.

Statistics provided by Elmore County narcotics staff indicate it has followed up on 716 drug complaints and confiscated 2,192 grams (4.833 pounds) of drugs. Meth accounts for 542 grams (25%) of all confiscated drugs in Elmore County from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30.

“Some of those complaints turned out to be nothing,” Reaves said. “Meth is the top drug we are fighting right now. We are just getting a trickle of heroin. Birmingham and Jefferson County are getting hammered with heroin right now. When we get a heroin complaint we go hot and heavy. We don’t want it here.”

The way meth is getting into Elmore County has also changed.

“The same way coke and marijuana and heroin are getting here, meth is coming in the same way,” Reaves said. “It’s going from Mexico to Atlanta and coming here. Getting meth used to be easy. We would work with the pharmacists and track the people buying pseudoephedrine. Now this stuff is coming from cartels.” 

Reaves indicated the narcotics agents in the county rely on informants to gather evidence against drug dealers.

“We work informants,” he said. “We talk to people in jail. We see if they are not bad criminals and sign these informants up and put a camera on them. They will purchase meth for us and bring it back to us. That helps us build a case.”

In the past nine months the county narcotics group has made 67 drug buys.

Franklin indicated the county is also experiencing a large number of identity thefts.

“It is probably, in the last three to four years, it has been the barn burner,” Franklin said. “I’d say 30 to 40% of reported crime is identity theft. You really need to protect your information.” 

Another topic of discussion that was brought up during a question-and-answer session near the end of the meeting involved the county’s firearms training course. 

Classes are generally held twice a year at the Elmore County Firing Range and are conducted by certified firearms instructors.

Participants attend a legal issues class, a firearms nomenclature class, a hands-on firearms fundamentals class and are allowed to use the firing range. 

“The class gives people the information so they will know what to do,” Franklin said. “If you don’t know what to do, you have no business carrying a gun.”

Applicants are required to submit to a background check prior to attending the class. Classes are free. 

Franklin said people interested in firearms training may call the administrative office at 334-567-5546.