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updated: 4/11/2014 11:58 AM

Schaumburg to join drug task force it suggested

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Schaumburg police are planning to join Arlington Heights and Hanover Park on a new Northwest suburban drug task force whose June 1 creation was first suggested by Schaumburg.

The formation of a Northwest Cook County arm of the 26-year-old North Central Narcotics Task Force is considered a significant step in the Schaumburg Police Department's reorganization of its own drug enforcement efforts, Police Chief James Lamkin said.

The department's own Special Investigations Bureau was disbanded after three undercover officers were arrested on drug conspiracy charges in January 2013.

The law enforcement consultant firm Hillard Heintze, which Schaumburg hired to assess the department's operations, concluded that such a self-operated vice unit was inappropriate for a police force of Schaumburg's size. Joining a regional agency was recommended instead.

The new task force will be organized and supervised by Illinois State Police, just as its existing branches in Kane, McHenry and DeKalb counties are.

The experience, procedures and policies of Illinois State Police make it a more appropriate agency to run such a task force, Lamkin said.

Along with two current members of the state police, the three participating villages will each contribute one officer to the task force. These officers will continue to be liaisons to their own departments, but will work full-time for the state-run task force.

The officers will have undercover duties, and the task force itself is considered a covert operation, Lamkin said. To save on startup costs, Schaumburg is providing office space for at least two years on village-owned property -- though not necessarily at the police department, he added.

Though eight suburban departments were contacted, only Arlington Heights and Hanover Park said they had the resources available to start immediately, Lamkin said.

However, Palatine and Streamwood police indicated they might be able to join in about six months.

Lamkin said the task force is hoped to grow, but should be balanced between the benefit of having more officers and the downside of having too much territory to cover.

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