Prescott AZ (March 2, 2021) – The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office learned about the DEA’s new program Operation Engage from the news release that was issued earlier this week by the Phoenix division. Operation Engage “allows participating field divisions to focus on the biggest drug threat and resulting violence in their respective geographic areas” labeled Yavapai County as their main focus, claiming they were going to work with local stakeholders to “target drug threats” within the county.
“It is disappointing that the DEA would release this news without making any effort to contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office or any of its community partners within the county,” said Sheriff David Rhodes. “The DEA singled out Yavapai County as ground zero of the opioid epidemic and suggested that nothing was being done in their statement which is out of touch with the facts and disheartening to the local partners who know better”.
Drug addiction and the opioid epidemic is a problem every community in America is facing. Yavapai County is at the forefront of combatting this problem. Through our collaborative partnerships at the local, state, and federal levels, we have put solutions in place in the areas of prevention, treatment, and enforcement. In 2020, our Reach Out program connected 714 inmates to services upon release from jail. This helped achieved a recidivism rate for those screened of 16% in 2020.
Through broad-based coalitions such as Partners Against Narcotics Traffickers (PANT), Yavapai Mental Health and Criminal Justice Coalition, and MatForce, our county has already brought together many agencies and community groups united in combatting the drug challenges in the community. Nationally recognized programs such as Reach Out, Yavapai Reentry, and the Overdose Death Review Task Force are rooted in Yavapai County and serve as models across the country. PANT is the countywide leader in enforcement, establishing an overdose homicide squad and increasing Detectives specifically to hold dealers accountable. Our K9 unit is consistently seizing pounds of drugs and thousands of fentanyl pills. In 2019 and 2020, PANT detectives and our K9 Teams seized nearly 15,000 fentanyl pills, 29 grams of fentanyl powder, served 45 search warrants, and arrested 129 suspects related to fentanyl possession and sales.
The Yavapai Silent Witness program, yavapaisw.com, has been expanded and has been instrumental in our efforts by allowing concerned community members to report drug activity anonymously. The program has also received several donations to its reward bank, which provides a cash incentive encouraging tips that identify those selling drugs in our community.
Yavapai County’s approach is comprehensive, spanning the criminal justice system, treatment and prevention, and community partners.
“Our county always works together to solve community problems and we always welcome more partners. I am proud of the hard work of everyone from community members to law enforcement, courts and treatment providers who show up every day and fight to keep Yavapai County a great place to live,” said Sheriff Rhodes.