Drug and Vice Enforcement

About the Drug and Vice Enforcement Unit

The Drug and Vice Enforcement Unit (DAVE) engages in covert and overt operations in an effort to combat dangerous drugs, prescription drug abuse, and related activity in the Paducah area.  DAVE is primarily responsible for the seizure of narcotics and the forfeiture of assets belonging to drug traffickers. 

The drug problem in our country is complex, and not easily managed by the work of front-line patrol officers who have to respond to other calls for service.  As a department, we attempt to address all levels of the drug trade, from street-level dealing that causes neighborhood issues, to those dealers that have established connections outside of our community. As such, the DAVE Unit manages everything from Crime Stoppers tips to our continued taskforce partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.

The DAVE Unit actively participates in the McCracken County Drug Court, which aims at giving drug offenders a second chance. The unit participates in education around the community, partnering with health professionals to teach people the dangers of opioid abuse.

In 2017, the Drug and Vice Enforcement Unit opened 242 investigations with a clearance rate of 89 percent.  In 2016, the Unit opened 127 cases with a 96.7 percent clearance.  They investigated 428 tips and collected 221.5 pounds of prescription medications for disposal through the Department's semi-annual Drug Take-Back Day.  For a comparison, in 2016, the Unit investigated 407 tips and collected 272 pounds of prescription medications for disposal.  In 2015, the Drug and Vice Enforcement Unit opened 121 cases and charged 129 people.  Like most other jurisdictions, the largest number of drug offenses are related to marijuana arrests.  In 2014, the Unit opened 138 cases with a clearance rate of 92 percent.  In 2013, the Unit conducted 389 investigations and opened 153 cases with a clearance rate of 92 percent.  In 2012, the unit removed nearly 1800 dozes of prescription drugs off the street in addition to 596 grams of crack, 93 grams of powder cocaine, 34 grams of heroin, 140 grams of methamphetamine, and 3925 grams of marijuana.  

In addition to the illicit drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana, the DAVE unit focuses on investigating the abuse of prescription painkillers.  The Kentucky Attorney General's Office reports more than 1000 people die in Kentucky each year from prescription drug overdose.  As a comparison, 744 people died in motor vehicle collisions in 2012 in Kentucky.  In February 2013, the DAVE unit expanded by one detective with the sole responsibility of investigating illegal prescription drug abuse cases and build relationships with pharmacies, physicians, and other medical professionals.  In 2015, there were 149 investigations opened with charges brought against 38 people.  The database known as Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER) is an important resource in identifying potential prescription drug abusers.  The DAVE unit also has developed and implemented a "pharmacy alert system" to share information between local druggists.

The DAVE unit also spends time educating patrol officers what to look for on the streets.  The DAVE detectives have specialized training in drug detection and investigation, and they share that knowledge with patrol officers during training blocks.  The topics covered include search and seizure, drug interdiction and detection, and interview and interrogation techniques. 

To educate the public to reduce drug abuse, the Paducah Police Department partners with the Paducah Public Schools in providing two programs:  Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE).  

Prescription Drug Drop Box

Prescription Drug Drop Box

The Paducah Police Department partners with the Kentucky Crime Prevention Coalition and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide a year-round drop box where people can drop off expired or no longer needed medications at the Police Department headquarters located at 1400 Broadway.  The box is located in the lobby and accessible during normal business hours.  Citizens need only to bring their medications to the lobby of the department and drop them into the designated box.  No information is requested, and the police department will properly destroy the medication to ensure that it does not enter the water system or fall in the hands of drug dealers or our children.  Additional Drug Drop Box Information >>

Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Initiative   

Four Rivers Behavioral Health has been identified as part of a multi-region prescription drug abuse initiative by the Division of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities.  As a part of this initiative, focus groups were held with students at various high schools.  The focus groups led to the identification of three misperceptions:

  1. Prescription drugs are safer than illegal or street drugs.
  2. It’s OK to take someone else’s prescription medication.
  3. Prescription drugs are not addictive.

It was felt that youth would be able to develop messages that would “speak” to other youth.  So the contest asked groups to develop a social marketing message.  Paducah Tilgman’s message was believed to be the best and was chosen as the message to publicize.  To watch the 30 second public service annoucement produced by Paducah Tilghman High School students in 2011, click Prescription PSA.   


Capt. Matt Smith
Sgt. Shawn Craven