Baker City. Ore – (Release from Baker City Police Department) In preparing this press release, I wished to address the decision to retire K-9 Capa as a member of the BCPD K9 drug interdiction program as well as speak to work being done in the Investigations Division.
The decision to discontinue the K-9 program did not come lightly, but due to a variety of factors that included Capa’s age, changes in assignment for K-9 handler Detective Sergeant Wayne Chastain, the decriminalization of drugs in Oregon, and other changes in Oregon’s Search and Seizure laws, it was the clear path forward. While the K-9 program was very generously funded solely by community members and donations, the City will see some savings in relation to incentive pay for our canine handler as well as the added benefit of adding the K9 vehicle/police to the Department’s fleet, reducing costs associated with ongoing maintenance and extending the life of other vehicles currently in rotation.
With that being said, I want to take this opportunity to assure the public that Baker City Police Department remains committed to enforcing laws against drug trafficking and all the crime associated with drug use and sales. Even though the State of Oregon has decriminalized marijuana and certain amounts of illicit drugs, there are laws still in place that address drug distribution. Although it takes more effort, teamwork, and collaboration with other agencies, it can be done and is being done in our community. Currently, the Baker City Police Department has a plain-clothes Investigation Unit consisting of detectives that participate in all major criminal investigations, including drug trafficking. We work with other drug task forces throughout the Northwest as well as federal agencies. Having a plain-clothes investigative unit with unique investigative tools is imperative in today’s environment due to changes in how these complex cases must be investigated. Building drug trafficking cases that result in successful outcomes prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, requires this approach as much of the interaction an unformed patrol officer can have with the public is limited in scope, but essential in investigating property crimes and other crimes associated with drug sales and use.
The recent sentencing of Heather Winston in Baker County Circuit Court this past week regarding her involvement in a kidnapping case was the result of the investigative work completed by BCPD Drug Task Force/Major Crime Detectives with additional assistance from BCPD Patrol Officers. The violence of this case was permeated with drug use and trafficking and would not have come to a resolution had it not been for the diligent work by the BCPD Drug Task Force/ Major Crime Detectives, BCPD Patrol Officers, and in collaboration with the Baker County District Attorney’s Office.