Home Opinion Editorials A soldier's job
A soldier's job
The federal government recently deployed 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, their task to prevent foreigners from illegally coming to America.
Illegals carrying drugs are of particular concern, according to the Department of Defense.
This is a positive step.
But it’s also not enough.
What about the people who have already crossed the border and who are, perhaps even as you read these words, cultivating a crop of marijuana in a remote part of Baker County?
Who should bear the potentially dangerous burden of confronting these criminals, almost all of whom carry guns?
Well, in the case of pot plantations on federal land — which many of them are — we’d say the job should be left to the federal government, and specifically the military.
On that point we agree with Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner, Baker County Sheriff Mitch Southwick and the several other city, county and state cops who made their case last month to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
The police officials invited Wyden, Oregon’s senior senator, to Baker City to discuss their concerns.
To be fair, the National Guard does help root out illegal marijuana grows.
Guard helicopters conduct surveillance flights over forested areas to search for such operations. The military choppers also haul away plants.
But the greatest danger comes from raiding the plantations that are found.
And often it’s local law enforcement, not the feds, that ends up doing that work.
Unfortunately, the local agencies lack the manpower, and in some situations the training, to handle these jobs.
Fortunately, the people who guard marijuana grows often flee after they see the military helicopter fly over, as they recognize that their secret has been found out.
Yet we can’t rely on these criminals to abandon their posts.
The bottom line is that there’s no reason local cops should ever have to go up against armed thugs on federal land for which the cops don’t even have jurisdiction.
That’s a soldier’s job.