Operation UNITE is a recognized drug task force operating under KRS 65.210-65.300 (Interlocal Cooperation Act). The task force is a legal police agency and its law enforcement personnel have arrest powers under state law.
UNITE detectives focus on quality drug interdiction, confiscation and undercover operations. Officers work in conjunction with city, county, state and federal police agencies to provide counter-drug initiatives in southern and eastern Kentucky. Detectives are assigned to one of three multi-county regions – Cumberland, Kentucky River and Big Sandy. Through an interlocal agreement in November 2005 UNITE detectives have jurisdiction within all 29 counties of the Fifth Congressional District.
On July 27, 2005, Operation UNITE received accreditation by the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police (KACP) for demonstrating that it meets or exceeds commonly accepted professional standards for efficient and effective operations, becoming only the second law enforcement drug task force in Kentucky to do so. UNITE was reaccredited in 2010.
The accreditation process involves a progressive assessment of policies and procedures that cover 157 standards related to a department’s operations and personnel. All policies and procedures must be put in writing, and employees must be trained in their use.
A drug roundup is an organized effort to arrest multiple individuals following undercover investigations that span many months. A roundup may take place over several days so as not to overburden local jails.
Most of those arrested in a roundup will have already been indicted by a grand jury, allowing felony cases to proceed directly to Circuit Court and avoiding adding to already crowded District Court dockets.
UNITE’s first roundup took place on April 6, 2004, with police seeking 210 suspected drug dealers in the eight-county Kentucky River area. At the time it was the largest such operation in Kentucky’s history. On October 28, 2009, UNITE had one-fifth of the cases in “Operation Flamingo Road” – a federal, state and local law enforcement effort to arrest 518 individuals suspected of obtaining and/or distributing prescription pills from Florida.