As the MDJ reported Wednesday, the Marietta Police Department is withdrawing from the Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Narcotics and Organized Crime Task Force, also known as MCS.
The department has been a part of the task force since it began in the 1980s. The task force investigates major narcotics trafficking in and around Cobb County, emphasizing drugs coming into the community.
Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn said the split was because Marietta PD is moving toward a more “evidence-based” approach that emphasizes prevention and support for addicts in addition to arresting dealers and users.
Speaking with the MDJ on Wednesday after attending an opioid summit in Atlanta featuring President Donald Trump, Flynn said the pullout is not because of any problems or disagreement with the task force.
“I want to be abundantly clear, I don’t have any problem with MCS. ... They do good and important work,” he said. “However, we’ve got this strategy and we can use the resources more here to tie together our whole strategy.”
In response, the members of the task force issued the following statement:
“MCS is saddened by the departure of the Marietta Police Department from participating in crucial joint operations to address the ongoing battle with illegal drugs — both in MCS’ support of preventive measures and in the apprehension of drug traffickers.”
Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren, a member of the MCS executive board said “addressing the problem of drug addiction in our community is best accomplished as a countywide partnership. The many crimes that result from buying and selling of drugs requires a consistent, steadfast, and unified approach.”
John Melvin, Cobb’s acting district attorney, said he was “thankful” to read that Flynn supports evidence-based policing that views the opioid epidemic and rising prevalence of methamphetamine as public health issues as much as public safety problems.
“So is MCS and each one of its supporting agencies,” said Melvin. “One of the proudest moments for MCS was its support of the Zone as a treatment center, and as its director, Missy Owen, noted, ‘We still have to stop the flow of drugs coming into our county.’ Withdrawing from the joint task force makes that goal more difficult for the remaining agencies. Indeed, working together is always a force multiplier as opposed to agencies acting alone.”
Cobb Solicitor Barry Morgan, also a member of the MCS executive board, said the prevention and detection of illegal drug activity is the “first step in an effective drug abuse reduction strategy.” Morgan added that locating and arresting drug dealers reduces “the risk to our children and neighbors from being exposed to illegal drug distribution and violence often associated with this activity.”
Newly named Cobb Public Safety Director Mike Register said that “the reality is that drug addiction and distribution are a community wide problem that is best solved working together across all city and county boundaries.”
Officer Chuck McPhilamy, spokesperson for Marietta police, said that the department’s three officers assigned to the task force will receive new assignments by May 1.
McPhilamy added that Marietta PD will continue to assist Cobb Police, Smyrna Police and the Cobb Sheriff’s Department in investigations.
“There is no animosity with any of the departments,” he said. “We value the ability to work with the local agencies and will continue to work with them on a case-by-case basis as requested.”