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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: Morro Bay Joins A New County Narcotics Unit
Title:US CA: Morro Bay Joins A New County Narcotics Unit
Published On:2012-01-25
Source:New Times (San Luis Obispo, CA)
Fetched On:2012-01-28 06:01:19

For the first time in seven years, the Morro Bay police will
participate in a special task force outside their own department.

As part of the SLO County Sheriff's Department's new hybrid gang and
narcotics task force, the department will have access to additional
assistance in "long-term investigations," according to Morro Bay Chief
Tim Olivas.

On Jan. 24, the Morro Bay City Council voted 3-2 to pass two budget
amendments to redistribute unanticipated funds. That decision freed up
more than $10,000, which was allocated to the new task force for the
remainder of the 2011-12 fiscal year. The City Council also moved some
additional revenue to the city's Recreation and Parks Sport Division.

Nobody seemed to dispute the Parks amendment, but a few council
members were wary about joining the police task force.

"For years we weren't part of this, and to me, the county misstepped,
to put it lightly," said Mayor Bill Yates, referring to the arrests of
12 medical marijuana providers in late December 2010. "I have no
respect for the old Narcotics Task Force for the trauma that they
brought to our county residents and their children."

The county's Narcotics Task Force (NTF) was shut down this year due to
state budget cuts, which led to the local formation of a new local

Yates wanted to wait for a year before considering joining the newly
formed task force to "see their behavior."

"Obviously I have strong feelings on this," he added.

Councilwoman Carla Borchard, who was in favor of the new unit, called
drugs "a huge problem in our schools."

Seeing the council was split, Olivas explained the new unit's
distinction from the former NTF, which was run under the direction of
a state Department of Justice commander-and paid for mainly by the
state-until the DOJ's budget was slashed in June 2011.

Olivas said the impact on his department from abstaining from the unit
would outweigh the $10,000 price tag, and urged that the decision was
"time sensitive."

"If we do not join the county, I can tell you it will cripple us as an
agency in our ability to do long-term investigations," Olivas said.
"I'm serious."

Olivas later told New Times he expects the sheriff will run the unit
with a new, "local perspective," and that the membership means better
access to help with the city's own gang and narcotics enforcement efforts.

The money was derived from one-time savings and will cover half a
year. However, there's no word yet on how the cash-strapped city
intends to maintain that access in the next fiscal year.
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