Officers from Haywood, Buncombe, Jackson, and Henderson counties as well as the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation participated in a Comprehensive Roadside Interdiction class recently on the campus of Haywood Community College. The course covered every facet of vehicle criminal interdiction by combining classroom with practical hands on training.

Ken Wilson Ford donated the use of two vehicles for the class. “It is important to expose these students to as much as possible and being able to use different vehicles makes a difference,” explains Dee Parton, HCC Coordinator of Public Safety Training. “They will come across all different makes and models in the field.”

Some of the topics participants learned about include national crime overview, identifying criminal indicators and counterfeit goods, North Carolina drug movement perspective, and hidden compartment displays.

According to Brandon Gilmore, officer with the Waynesville Police Department and HCC Basic Law Enforcement Training instructor, students in the class learn to look beyond the obvious. “In the post 9-11 era, we have learned that it is our job to detect hidden drugs and contraband, especially working near I-40.”

The class was led by Tim Cardwell and Shaun Smart. Cardwell has spent the last 22 years with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. Smart is the Traffic/Drug Interdiction Team Lieutenant for the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Both Cardwell and Smart are former recipients of the National Criminal Interdiction Officer of the Year Award, the top national law enforcement award for roadway criminal interdiction officers. In addition, all of stops initiated by both were “cold” stops, which are made with no prior knowledge the vehicle contained suspects or contraband.

“After September  11, we had to change our way of thinking,” says Ray Herndon with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office. “Most contraband began moving on the highways instead of in the air. We have learned to question what doesn’t make sense.”

A Jackson County Deputy had success his first shift after attending the Comprehensive Roadside Interdiction class.  He found 15 marijuana plants in the car trunk of a local resident.  He says, "I was skeptical this stuff could work, but boy does it ever work well."