"Kitsap police officers knock, talk and bust"

"They were knockin,' yes indeed, and they were talking. But not to you and me, hopefully.A task force of about 50 law enforcement officers from throughout the county conducted the second Knock and Talk operation Monday to answer citizens' complaints about possible drug-related activities, such as marijuana groves and methamphetamine labs. Washington State Patrol Sgt. Randy Drake, who leads the interagency WestNET drug enforcement group, headed up the operation, which works from the element of surprise.By 4 p.m. Monday, the effort netted 230 marijuana plants, 2.5 pounds of processed marijuana, 28 grams of meth, 1.5 ounces of cocaine and $2,000 in drug money, according to Drake. They also seized 10 weapons, and took two suspects into custody.Everybody else has been cited and/or booked and released, Drake added.Last year's operation netted the biggest meth lab found so far, said Drake.Also, 900 marijuana plants, 25 pounds of processed marijuana, two pounds of meth and the big, professional meth operation as well as a smaller lab, Drake said.We've had a number of complaints about neighbors in different parts of the county, about narcotics activity. We take a day and go into the community to deal with the neighbors' complaints, Drake said about the operation.The inter-agency teams investigated 56 complaints registered throughout the year. The complaints had not been pursued because officers were involved with higher priority-cases.These are strictly cases we're looking to clear, Drake said.Don't worry about it if you don't get anything today, Drake advised the law officers gathered for a 7 a.m. briefing before they hit the streets.They also wanted to make sure all the legal i's were dotted and t's crossed to make any possible charges stick in court.I want written consent, no verbal. And if you find a lab, we have a couple of people on the team who are lab-certified. Get hold of them and have them come out and assess it, Drake told the gathering. Deputy county prosecutor Matt Clucas, who briefed the group on legal procedure, said Our burden is to show consent is valid.Consent to look around a home must be given outside the door, even if the resident invited the officer in, Clucas said.Judges are reading it very strictly whether or not a party invited (the officer in), Clucas said.Clucas touched on who could give permission for officers and where they could look.If a friend of the resident was living in one of the rooms, the host could not give permission for the room to be checked. The friend's spouse, however, could give consent.Also, a parent could give consent for a room check for a dependent child younger than 21 living in the home. A child between 10 and 14 also is considered old enough to give consent, but only for common areas of the home, not to parents' bedrooms, Clucas said.House guests can't give consent to a look around, but house sitters can because they have the authority to maintain the house, Clucas said.You need probable cause for a warrant, and I have a judge on line to give warrants for something really serious like meth labs, Clucas said.Probable cause included marijuana plants in plain view, admission of drugs, and smell, he said.He also advised the officers to be specific in their information, location and scope for the search warrants, whether outbuildings were to be included.Agencies represented included the Poulsbo, Port Orchard, Bainbridge Island and Bremerton police departments, the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office, WSP and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.Look around the room and tell me one operation that got this many to participate, Drake commented.Sheriff Steve Boyer also was pleased at the response, but concerned by one prevalent factor in the Knock and Talks.There seems to be a large percentage of little children. How are you going to break the cycle? A lot of (drug-related activity) is learned behavior, Boyer noted. My dad does it, it must be OK."

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