Arkansas narcotics officers look for drug problem solutions in Washington

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC -- The war on drugs is becoming harder to win, according to Arkansas narcotics officers. They are in our nation’s capital this week hoping to find solutions to drug problems in Arkansas. Narcotics officers from around the country are looking to the federal government for help.

“It’s not that we can’t win it’s that we can’t afford to quit fighting,” said Wes Baxter, vice president of the Arkansas Narcotic Officers Association.

Baxter says cities like Jonesboro, AR are exposed to more drugs than ever. Baxter’s priority at a conference in Washington is to come up with ideas to mitigate the flow of drugs into the U.S.

“These conferences bring a network of people together for them to share stories, share ideas, and share training information on how to attack these different issues that we have,” said Baxter.

He is looking to his Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) for help. Cotton says strengthening U.S. borders is one solution. He also wants to keep serious drug traffickers locked up in prison.

“Anytime you let out thousands of violent, repeat felons from prison, it’s just a mathematical certainty that some of them are going to commit new crimes,” said Cotton.

Cotton is standing strong in his opposition to a recently signed criminal justice law called the First Step Act. The bill saw bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and a quick signature from President Trump.

Cotton says the law gives serious offenders reduced sentences and puts thousands back on the streets.

“One thing that we need to do is stay away from this fear mongering,” said Ed Chung, a retired narcotics prosecutor who now works at the Center for American Progress.

Chung says serious criminals will not simply be thrown back into the public. Chung thinks some prisoners do earn second chances, and their release will not cause public safety to deteriorate.

“Public safety comes from a very broad range of factors especially creating opportunities for people and investing in communities over a long period of time,” said Chung.

The narcotics officers conference continues through Thursday.