New SWAT team takes part in drug raids
The new Morgan County SWAT Team has taken part in two drug raids in its first weeks of operation.
Just days after the four deputy sheriffs finished their training in Philadelphia on February 9, they raided a house in eastern Morgan County where they suspected drugs were sold.
The following week they raided a home in North Berkeley and arrested an out-of-state man for alleged drug sales.
February 16 raid
The first raid took place on Friday, February 16, at a residence on Clone Run Road, not far from Pleasant View School. Police had been watching the house for nearly a year, according to Chief Deputy Vince Shambaugh, who leads the SWAT Team.
After Lt. Tim Stapleton secured a search warrant, the team entered the home shortly after 5 a.m. while the occupants were still in bed.
A search of the residence turned up what was believed to be marijuana, prescription drugs belonging to other people, smoking paraphernalia, packaging materials and scales, according to Shambaugh.
Also confiscated were $2,200 in cash and two firearms, said police.
Charges are pending, Shambaugh said.
Lt. Stapleton, Deputy Johnson and five State Police troopers assisted in the search and with securing the property.
February 23 raid
The second raid came on Friday, February 23, and resulted in the arrest of Khalil Ali Nelson, 27, who gave addresses in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Jacksonville, Florida.
Nelson was charged with delivery of crack cocaine after police found what they believed was a 3.8-gram crack rock on the floor, near where Nelson was standing when they served a search warrant.
More than $800 cash was found on Nelson, who also had 14.5 grams of suspected marijuana hidden in his pants, said police.
The North Berkeley residence did not belong to Nelson, but police said they had witness statements that Nelson sold crack cocaine there when he visited Berkeley Springs.
Magistrate Kermit Ambrose later found probable cause to hold Nelson on a felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance and set his bond at $150,000.
Sheriff Ronald McIntire said he was proud of the start that the new SWAT Team has made. SWAT stands for Special Weapons And Tactics.
Team Leader Shambaugh and Deputies Scott Lemon, Tony Link and Seth Place finished five days of intensive training at Central DelCo Tactical Response SWAT Institute near Philadelphia on February 9.
Shambaugh had met people from the school when he was in New Orleans taking part in Hurricane Katrina relief.
Due to Shambaugh's contacts, the local deputies only had to pay $25 each for training that usually costs $500 per person.
Sheriff McIntire liked Shambaugh's idea of a SWAT Team, because it can take an hour in emergency situations for a State Police team to come to a Morgan County site.
The Sheriff's Department sought donations for the team's weapons, helmets, bulletproof vests and other equipment from the Morgan County Commissioners, the American Legion and a number of businesses and individuals.
Shambaugh said there is still an on-going need for donations for more equipment.
For dangerous situations
Shambaugh said the team didn't come about because Morgan County was such a bad place. Local police wanted to be able to handle any situation that arose.
The SWAT Team may only be used a dozen times a year, he said.
This could include serving warrants in dangerous situations, standoffs with suspects, hostage takers and the need to make a raid or arrest in close or dangerous quarters.
Police have also noticed more potentially violent incidents due to domestic disputes and are always concerned that drug raids might turn violent.
Local team members have already met their counterparts in Western Maryland so they can work together in emergencies.