ROGERS CITY - Presque Isle County's prosecuting attorney and law enforcement officials met with the commander of the Huron Undercover Narcotics Team to discuss the team's future in the county, as well as the prosecutor's concerns about an ongoing drug problem there.
Prosecutor Rick Steiger met with Lt. Frank Keck, HUNT commander, on Feb. 5 to discuss his concerns over whether the team would continue to operate within the county. He also wanted to seek his cooperation in combating a heroin problem in the county that's been going on for several years.
Steiger said he called the meeting after hearing about a statement supposedly made at a HUNT board meeting that counties would have to "pay to play," he said. He wanted clarification on what this might mean.
Keck said nothing to that effect was said at the board meeting. Rather, there was some discussion about the board bylaws stating that people wouldn't get a vote on the HUNT board if their county doesn't provide an officer or money to the team. This is according to interlocal agreements between the team and local law enforcement organizations.
"It had nothing to do with whether or not we're going to work there," he said, adding that no decision was made either way at the board meeting.
HUNT will continue to operate in Presque Isle County even after county officials opted to pull funding from the team, Keck said, adding the team recently executed a search warrant in the county concerning an alleged illegal gun purchase.
Presque Isle County Sheriff Bob Paschke and Undersheriff Joe Brewbaker attended the meeting, as did Rogers City Police Chief Matt Quaine and Onway Police Chief Jim Gibson. Keck confirmed to them HUNT is still a resource they could use.
"The only thing that would be changing, since (the county doesn't) have a man assigned to us right at the moment, there will be fewer people," he said. "It'll be harder to be proactive with investigations."
Steiger said he told Keck about a heroin problem in the county that he believes hasn't been properly addressed. After the meeting, he believes Keck and HUNT will tackle the issue, and said he's available to help in any way.
"I'm optimistic about the direction (Keck) is taking the drug team," he said.
Along with methamphetamine and cocaine, heroin is one of the "big three" HUNT and other narcotics teams strive to eliminate, Keck said.
"If there's people who do have information, I recommend they either give us a tip through the tip line or online, but that's something we certainly don't want to see get a foothold in the community," he said.
HUNT can be reached at 1-800-573-3784 or online at huntteam.net.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.