2014 Drug Arrests: The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office led a multi-jurisdictional task force comprised of federal, state, county and local law enforcement in the arrests of seven individuals on state and federal felony drug and weapons charges in March of 2014. In association with the Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team, BCSO Deputies served a search warrant as part of an ongoing investigation at a residence in Bellevue. The search warrant was executed by members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms SWAT team with the assistance of the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office SERT Team. These successful arrests highlight the outstanding collaborative efforts and inter-agency relations of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT) with the Bureau of ATF, the Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team and both local and state law enforcement agencies.
Operation Mega-Load was another important accomplishment of the past year. In December 2013 the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office began preparing for the first of three massive pieces of water purification equipment, deemed “Mega-Loads”, which would be traveling through Blaine County en route from Oregon to Canadian oil fields. These loads which were more than the size of a football field, weighed 901,000 pounds with 27 axles and were over 19 feet tall, posed challenges for IDT, ISP, as well as the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office. Protestors in Oregon had caused delays by blocking roads and chaining themselves to the first Mega-Load. Reports had been received that similar attempts to disrupt the safe travel of these loads were being planned along the route by specific protest groups.
In preparation for the first load’s journey through Blaine County on December 30, 2013, the Sheriff’s Office developed an extensive operations plan, which outlined the specific roles and responsibilities of all involved to ensure an unobstructed passage. This plan involved all 3 divisions of the Sheriff’s Office, Blaine County Emergency Communications Dept., the Idaho State Police, the Idaho Transportation Dept., Wood River Fire and Rescue, the Carey Fire Dept., and the Blaine County School District Transportation Dept. Officers were assigned to “crowd control” at the Highway 75/20 junction to ensure that protest areas and “no parking” areas were clearly defined and to address limited access issues. Rover Patrols were responsible for patrolling ahead of the staging point to look for suspicious activity, vehicles and blockade items. Officers were also assigned to react to any person involved in obstructing the free movement of the Mega-Load vehicles. Additionally, the Incident Command vehicle was on scene to provide guidance, and track activities in the event of a major incident.
Thankfully, the first Mega-Load passed through Blaine County the night of December 30, 2013 without incident. As a result, our operations teams were scaled back for the second and third loads which successfully passed through our boundaries on January 7-8, 2014, and February 22-23, 2014. Regardless of the lack of expected protest to materialize, we were equipped, trained and well prepared for the situation. The development and implementation of this operational plan better prepares the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office for future events that require the collaboration of multiple agencies, extensive planning and logistics, and the technical execution of activities.
Search and Rescue Inter-agency Training: Another significant accomplishment of the past year was our Search and Rescue Inter-agency Training. This winter Blaine County Sheriff’s Office and Blaine County Search and Rescue held multiple interagency trainings with the Sun Valley Fire Department in our ongoing efforts to be well prepared to protect public safety and health in backcountry rescue and avalanche conditions. Additionally, we also held a special training with Sun Valley Heli-Ski on familiarization of the aircraft and landing zone procedures for helicopter extractions. Knowledge from these trainings was put into action by BCSAR members during two notable winter incidents. In February 2014, we utilized training in backcountry access and extraction, scene safety, and safe routes of movement during the investigation phase of an avalanche fatality in Frenchman’s Creek. This assistance reduced the potential risk for our first responders in a volatile and dangerous environment. In March 2014, BCSAR members returning from a day of training were in the right place at the right time to aid an injured snowmobile rider who required backcountry extraction because he could not ride his sled out of the Apollo Basin to where he could be transported for medical treatment. In this incident, BCSAR members created the helicopter landing zone, assisted with patient care and extracted the sled. Their actions were instrumental in keeping a relatively minor medical situation from turning into a serious survival situation. Under the guidance of the Sheriff’s Office, Blaine County Search and Rescue trains, prepares and maintains their readiness so others may live.