ATV's loaded up as part of drug sweep through Grainger Co. (Courtesy: Grainger Co. Sheriff's Office)
GRAINGER CO., Tenn. (WVLT) -- Sheriff Scott Layel made his "tough on drugs" policy known running for office. With his eleven-officer department making 716 drug related arrests in his first year as Sheriff, he has proved that cleaning up Grainger County is his priority.
"For a small department to have every drug dealer in Grainger County looking over his/her shoulder makes me proud as a sheriff and the citizens of Grainger County very proud," said Layel.
"We're like any other county. We've seen an increase and crime and in drugs just like surrounding counties of Grainger County have," said County Commissioner Wendy Noe.
That's why Noe and the rest of the county commission approved an extra $100,000 for the sheriff's department.
Layel says he'll use that money to hire two new deputies and a detective.
"We can actually have three deputies on the road at all times. Where as in the past, we've had two deputies working the entire county by themselves," said Layel.
According to Layel, this year's drug arrests caused the average street price of drugs in Grainger Co. to increase. Oxycodone pills were sold for $20 a few years ago and are now being sold for about $35 a pill.
People around the county say prescription pills abuse and meth are reaching epidemic levels.
"What I find out is there's alcohol and drugs involved that should be used for money paying their utilities," said Rev. Fred Chandler.
Chandler supports more enforcement, but believes it takes more than locking up dealers and abusers
"They cannot police this county without help from the citizens of the county," said Chandler.
That's why the sheriff launched Operation Take Back Grainger. It's a community-wide campaign to fight for the future and the children of the county.
"Our children's future literally rides on what we accomplish today. We have a few short years to influence our kids, and whatever patterns we set for them will likely be used for their kids, and the generation after that," added Layel.
"There's not enough words to describe how critical that is. I think that's the underlying cause of crime, and we've gotta get rid of it. It has to stop," said Noe.
The new deputies and detective should join the force next month.