West Central Drug Task Force Celebrates A Milestone

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It wasn't an April Fools' joke when the then West Central Drug Enforcement group debuted on April 1, 1988.

After 20 years, law enforcement leaders say the West Central Drug Task Force has been going strong, putting criminals behind bars.

Currently the Drug Task Force has eight full-time and a couple of part-time officers that work with it.

The group deals with more than 400 cases a year, and works to keep drugs off the street.

It's a continuous puzzle... that always needs the pieces put together.

Jeff Wilson says, "What our information is, what to buy from them, which is what we like to do. Where they're staying at, who are their associates."

Jeff Wilson is the head of the West Central Drug Task Force.

This month, the group is celebrating it's 20th anniversary.

Before he was the Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer was an officer on the Task Force.

He says the organization started in 1988, when certain drugs started showing up in the area.

Ron Cramer says, "Marijuana and cocaine were becoming really prevalent. Federal monies came in through the Edward Byrne Grant and they're still funding us."

Cramer says through the years, the department has seen changes in the kinds of drugs being used and sold in Western Wisconsin.

Ron Cramer says, "We've seen influxes of meth, resurgency of meth from old biker days."

Over the years Cramer says the officers on the Task Force have dealt with criminals who change their tactics, and an explosion in the use of technology.

Ron Cramer says, "We had a little typewriter that we'd type out little scrolls and then type a little bit and now to the computerized. One of the guys had a blue tooth the other night dictating to a palm pilot, and I thought, man, I'm getting old."

Cramer says looking back at the early days, many of the cases were cleared, by being good police officers.

Cramer says, "About how lucky we were more than good and some of the cases we walked into by just treating people right."

Both Wilson and Cramer say there's one important thing that's made the Drug Task Force so effective after all these years.

Jeff Wilson says, "We've been very successful as a drug task force the last 20 years because of one thing. We work as a team."

Federal budget cuts are a concern for the West Central Drug Task Force.

But Cramer says, even if grant money isn't there, the program will hopefully continue.

He says several law enforcement departments agree local funding might have to eventually be required keep the task force up and running.

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