The Cavalier Daily
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Joint police effort leads to drug busts

The Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force often goes unnoticed - until it contributes to high-profile drug arrests.

But JADE officers are out and about on the streets of Charlottesville combating drug problems every day.

JADE is made up of 16 officers from state, University, Charlottesville and Albemarle County police forces and is responsible for the vast majority of drug enforcement efforts in the area.

"We pull [the departments] together into a single unit," Albemarle County Capt. R. Douglas Rhoads said. The officers "still work for their own department [but] they all share information, they all share resources."

The departments formally established JADE in July 1995 in response to increased drug offenses in the area. But Rhoads, who serves as chairman of JADE's Joint Advisory Group, said the task force is identical to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Joint Narcotics Unit, formed around 1987, except it has a new title.

He said the task force has three main investigative forces - the crack-violence related cases, the non-crack related cases and the Drug Enforcement Agency-sponsored group to investigate long-range, cross-jurisdictional conspiracy cases.

Since its formation, JADE has made over 1,000 drug-related arrests, seized well over $2 million worth of drugs and $750,000 worth of drug dealers' cash and property assets.

Despite these figures, University Police Lt. Bryant Bibb, who serves as the organization's coordinator, said JADE does not measure its success by quantity alone.

"I think we've kind of changed our perspective over the years," Bibb said. Quality is "more important than the numbers."

There are similar drug enforcement agencies throughout the nation, but JADE is "one of the best in the state, if not in the country," Rhoads said. Because of its efforts, there is a "constant, continual effort at drug investigations here in Central Virginia."

He complimented the officers on the task force, saying that, in an area where there are "a lot more cases than there are detectives," they handle their duties with ease.

Despite the increased attention from the recent University-related drug arrests, the officers are "already on to the next case," he added.