HIDE unit to be renamed drug task force

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Over the past three years, there has been an operation in place whose sole task has been to get drugs off the streets in Bullitt County.

Most of those operations have been under the radar of the public.

Understanding that the public might not realize what has been going on under through the High Intensity Drug Enforcement unit of the sheriff’s office, Greenwell has brought back a more familiar name -- the Bullitt County Drug Task Force.

While the mission may be the same, the old name has returned. Another change is that a director has been hired to solely work with the detectives who are battling the war against drugs.

“We had to change the image of the task force when we took office,” said Greenwell. “It was basically down to two deputies with the sheriff’s office.”

The easiest way to regroup was to change the name. Along the way, Greenwell added additional deputies and operated the program out of the public eye.

“We’ve had more seizures than ever before,” said Greenwell. “That’s the way we’ve been able to fund the task force.”

Feeling that enough time has passed and enough fences have been mended, Greenwell recently hired Mike Halbleib, a retired detective from Louisville Metro Police.

Halbleib’s past is a decorated one. Much of his time has been spent in narcotics and as a certified instructor for the state law enforcement council. 

Chief deputy John Cottrell knew Halbleib and knew of his reputation. He also knew that while he enjoyed overseeing the HIDE unit, he was also covered up with the every day tasks in the sheriff’s office.

When Greenwell took over, Cottrell said the task force had lost all its partners and had to regroup. Over time, he said the relationships have been re-established.

Quietly, Cottrell said the unit has been very effective. In many cases, the lack of publicity is needed in an effort to capture those higher up on the “drug food chain.”

The goal is to someday have eight members of the Bullitt County Drug Task Force, including officers from local police departments.

Halbleib said he would like to have a task force where half of the unit is investigating the complaint calls and to help the officers. The other half of the eight-person unit would be to work on major cases.

He feels there are cartels in the county and that major work is needed to eliminate their presence.

From his past work, Halbleib has a lot of new and interesting tactics planned in the war against drugs.

“The guys are excited,” the director said of the task force detectives. “They like new things.”

Thinking out of the box is needed in today’s world and Halbleib said that people just don’t understand the magnitude of the drug problems in the entire region.

His goal is to get the message out that selling drugs in Bullitt County is not allowed.

To make that happen, the director said it will take time and patience.

He welcomes calls to the 955-CLUE tippling or directly to him at the sheriff’s office (543-2414). But he said drug cases are not solved overnight, even those which may appear simple to the public.

“It will take us some time but we are working on them,” said Halbleib.

He plans on making the task force more public and to let the people know about arrests when it is appropriate. Others will remain under wraps as detectives are looking to use those individuals to help them catch others dealers.

Halbleib is also looking forward to talking with community groups, church groups, school groups or any other organization about the drug problems and some of the tactics planned by the Bullitt County Drug Task Force.

“We need the community to be educated about what is going on here,” said Halbleib. “And we need their help.”

Any group looking for an educational program on a specific topic or just someone to speak should contact him at the sheriff’s office.

For Greenwell, the unpublicized progress has been impressive. With a dedicated director who has experience and has been out in the field, he knows the task force will be even more effective.

The sheriff has seen how destructive drugs can be to a person and he knows that a vast majority of those in jail or prison now have committed crimes associated with stealing to get money for drugs.

“I know we can reduce the number of thefts and burglaries if we can reduce the amount of drugs in the community,” said Greenwell.