By CHANSE WATSON
SMELTERVILLE — This quote from a post on Facebook perfectly summarized what many residents in the Silver Valley thought Friday night when they witnessed several Idaho State Police troopers patrolling the local area.
Working in collaboration with Probation & Parole, State detectives, United States Forest Service, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office, ISP staged an 8-hour criminal saturation emphasis on July 6 that focused primarily on the west end of the Silver Valley.
Emphases are specific ISP operations where they devote a large number of units and resources to a certain area for a set period of time.
Although these types of seemingly spontaneous operations occur fairly often in the local area, this emphasis differed from previous ones in that it focused on drug crime and impaired driving interdiction. Past local emphasis operations usually lasted two or three days and focused more on the interstate than cities.
“Due to the complaints of drug use in the Silver Valley, we targeted that area for a few hours,” ISP Sgt. Jeff Klitch said.
The fact that it was a holiday weekend also played a role in the decision to come to the area.
The main ISP team of six troopers (two criminal interdiction troopers, three DUI troopers and one officer) and other assisting units made sure that their presence was known from Cataldo to Wallace.
This presence was especially noticed in Smelterville, where several drug-related arrests were made.
In total, the operation yielded 76 traffic stops, one DUI, nine seatbelt infractions, 14 misdemeanor drug charges (i.e., marijuana or drug paraphernalia), four felony drug charges (i.e., methamphetamine and heroin) and the arrest of a wanted federal felon.
The felon, Zachary Keenan McKinney of Port Angeles, Wash., was booked into the Shoshone County Jail following a tense situation in Smelterville.
Around 8 p.m., ISP conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle McKinney was in near the USFS Office on Commerce Drive. Once the trooper who initiated the stop ran McKinney’s name in the system and discovered his warrant, he immediately called for backup. With guns drawn, the responding troopers processed McKinney and the other occupants of the vehicle with no issue.
McKinney was booked for being a fugitive from justice/escape, but further details on his criminal record were not revealed.
Law enforcement also utilized two drug detection K-9s during the emphasis — ISP’s Labrador, Ace and SCSO’s Labrador, Lulu.
ISP officers stated the operation went off without a hitch, and they were pleased with what came of it.
“It was great, I think it made a big impact,” Sgt. Klitch said. “It looked like the community wanted us there and we’ll be back.”
SCSO Captain Jeremy Groves echoed ISP’s thoughts on how everything went.
“As far as I’m concerned, between what everybody involved did, it was a good operation with all the agencies working together and it was a very successful evening.”
The results of this opperation, and previous local emphases, give law enforcement just a small look at the volume of drug crime that occurs in the Silver Valley on a daily basis.
Annual operations like this one occur all over the state as products of the Domestic Highway Enforcement Initiative.
If you are aware of any drug illegal drug activity, ISP asks that you report it to them (208-772-6055) or SCSO (208-556-1114).