Some state lawmakers have made it clear this session that they want to combat the drug problem here in the Gem State. In hopes of doing that, Rep. John Gannon, a Democrat from Boise, has proposed a bill that could put heroin dealers behind bars for a minimum of 10 years. The bill would charge those dealers with second-degree murder if someone dies of an overdose.
"Heroin has increased. Heroin overdoses has increased," Idaho State Police Capt. Bill Gardiner said.
Currently, a dealer caught with two grams of heroin faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three years. However, the newly proposed bill says if they sell to a user, who then overdoses and dies, the dealer could be charged with second-degree murder and could spend anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.
"We're confident that mandatory minimums do have an impact on the drugs that we see come into the state," Gardiner said.
This bill does not remove any mandatory minimums. It creates harsher penalties for heroin traffickers.The legislation does not impact users who may be trying to get help, just those who are bringing in heroin and selling it in our communities.
"We're not talking about the user who has the one or the two hits on them. We're talking about somebody who is genuinely in it to make money," Gardiner said.
However, law enforcement says catching a dealer is a lot easier said than done. Many times law enforcement will have to go through a drug user to find the drug dealer. Police say, if that user dies, it makes that investigation even harder.
"We work dealers on a daily basis. We want to keep drugs and crime out of our community, but tracking down an actual dealer in one of those cases is going to be very difficult," Nampa Police Sgt. Tim Riha said.
Riha added that does cause some concern.
"We got limited hours in the day just like everybody else. So therefore we have to prioritize and if that becomes a priority because now it's a murder investigation. It could take away services in other areas," Riha said.
The House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee agreed to send the proposal to a legislative hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. Nampa police say if passed, it could have some impacts on their everyday investigations.
"The Nampa Police Department is fully support of anything that keeps drugs out of our community. We just want make sure we go about it the right way," Riha said.