Crime has no borders. It goes where it pleases.
But now a task force of law enforcement officers which includes members of the Apopka Police Department will pursue these criminals beyond the boundaries their agencies can usually go.
Call them Cops without borders.
The Apopka City Council voted 5-0 to allow the Apopka Police Department join the West Orange Narcotics Task Force. The other members are the Ocoee, Winter Garden Police Departments and the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Its role is to provide police officers to implement and operate a task force to combat illegal narcotics and related criminal activity in or near their cities.
According to the City Council agenda green sheet, it is well known that criminals conduct their activities across jurisdictional lines, and the individual municipalities often find difficulty investigating such continuing criminal activities. Additionally, criminals often know the officers from one jurisdiction, but not the officers from all the jurisdictions. This agreement and the cooperation between the municipalities and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, will allow all the participating officers to take law enforcement action outside their usual jurisdictional limits and give them authority throughout the northwest Orange County agreement area; therefore, undercover officers from one jurisdiction may perform covert operations within another without discovery by the criminal element. All the member communities will benefit from these joint efforts to combat crime.
APD Captain Randall Fernandez explained the advantage of this multi-agency approach to law enforcement.
"The guy dealing drugs in Apopka sells them in Apopka, and in Ocoee, and in Winter Garden, and in South Apopka. It only makes sense that we go after them the same way and work together with these other agencies."
APD Chief Michael McKinley was aware of this task force when he was a member of the OCSO. According to McKinley, the task force has been in existence for over 10 years, but this will be the first time that the APD is involved. He is eager for the APD to contribute.
"Apopka has always had their own tactical teams to take on narcotics," McKinley said. "I just felt it was a good return on our investment to send two officers to the task force, work collectively, pool our resources, share our intelligence and receive the efforts of eight officers in attacking narcotics and other crimes in West Orange County. It will also free up our tactical team to deal with other trends and patterns in Apopka like auto burglaries."
The United States is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. According to the Health and Human Services Department, more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 (the latest year on record) than in any year on record, and the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involved an opioid. Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids—including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin—nearly quadrupled, and over 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses.
Apopka and West Orange County are not immune to those statistics, and a collaborative effort like the West Orange Narcotic Task Force is an aggressive effort to minimize the effects this epidemic is having on the communities they serve.
Crime, narcotics, and opioids have no borders, but now neither do the law enforcement officers taking them on.