Clay County Supervisors recently approved continued county participation in the Iowa Lakes Drug Task Force by signing a 28E agreement.
Both Clay County and the Spencer Police Department are founding members of the task force, allowing a great deal of interaction and partnership between agencies battling the distribution of illegal drugs in the Iowa Lakes region.
"We're doing more with less," Spencer Police Chief Mark Lawson said. "When it comes to public safety and public service, you're going to see this for the next few years. The more agencies pooling resources, the better off we're going to be."
"More than anything else, its the flow of information from one jurisdiction to another," Lawson said of the main benefits of partnerships.
"It keeps the lines of communication open. When agencies work together, the bad guy loses," Clay County Sheriff Randy Krukow said.
The law enforcement anti-drug consortium consists of Clay County and Spencer law enforcement departments; four county sheriff's offices: Dickinson, Emmet, Osceola and O'Brien; and multiple police agencies: Spirit Lake, Sheldon, Okoboji, Lake Park, Estherville and Arnolds Park.
The combined effort began in 1993.
"Back then, Everly had a police department, and other small towns with departments - which don't have them now - were also involved. Some of those departments disbanded and Milford dropped out a year or two ago," Krukow recalled.
In addition to the shared information, the agencies also share personnel and equipment when the situation calls for it.
"It used to be everybody worked on their own. Now, each agency has an operative - an agency drug investigator - who meets once a month or more if needed," Krukow explained. "We all own it, so we all share it and we all use it. If one agency was trying to do it by themselves it would break the bank."
The task force also works with agencies around the state and across the borders, based on where investigations lead.
"In scope of it, this thing is pretty big," Krukow said. "They're enterprising. That's what you find with drugs. Whether you're rich or poor, young or old, it crosses all geographical and generational boundaries.
The Iowa Lakes law enforcement team has worked with - and continues to work with - other Drug Task Force agencies from Sioux City, Minnesota, Nebraska, Omaha and Mason City, as well as drug agencies in Colorado and California.
"They're not just dealing drugs in Clay County or Spencer; they're dealing in other areas. We work with state and federal agencies also. We cross multi-jurisdictional lines," Krukow said.
"Most of the investigations are boots on the ground. It's interviews, surveillance ... and sometimes extremely difficult to do with the manpower we have in our own departments," Lawson said.
Krukow suggested the task force can have up to as many as 30 investigations going at once.
"Since this has been in effect, it really opens up communications." He continued, "And it isn't just drugs. We've found when drugs are involved, it can also involve domestic assault, burglary, forgery. Once people are involved with drugs it runs the gambit - a multitude of different crimes."
"Our task force is constantly working on this," Krukow said.
"But even that has certain limitations," Lawson added.