FIRST RESPONDER PROFILE
Salisbury Township Police Department Det. Kevin Kress has spent 27 years in law enforcement, but the past five years have been the toughest, as he has watched the increase in drug overdose incidents in the community.
Kress said he is grateful to work in an area with a relatively low crime rate, “but what I’ve seen in the past five years as residents struggle with drug habits and overdoses has been tough to see,” Kress said.
“We have always been dealing with criminal mischief, vehicle and home break-ins and commercial theft,” Kress observed at a recent Coffee With a Cop community policing event, “but the effects of the misuse of both illegal and prescription drugs is taking an increasing toll in our township.”
Before joining the Salisbury Police Department, Kress was an officer with the Lehigh University police force, but when an opportunity to join the Salisbury Police Department opened in 2005, Kress saw it as an opportunity for a more diverse law enforcement experience.
He began as a patrol officer, then expanded the department’s community policing efforts as a bicycle officer. He then took his experience into township schools with D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and anti-bullying programs to reach the township’s youngest citizens.
In 2012, Kress was named the department’s detective in its investigative division, and during that period put a lot of effort into helping solve a lot of issues associated with the township’s Laubach Park recreation area.
A source of satisfaction for Kress has been several years of increasing cooperation among Lehigh Valley municipal and Lehigh County law enforcement agencies.
“Our monthly crime-stop meetings among investigative peers, coordinated by the Pennsylvania State Police, has helped us better understand who and where bad actors are operating and increased the effectiveness of our crime prevention efforts,” Kress said.
Kress said cooperation between agencies is having a salutary effect as perpetrators in one area can lead to a domino effect of giving up other bad actors as they try to get a more lenient “deal” for their offense.
It is the drug-related incidents, though, Kress said is the most perplexing.
“We investigate all the incidents of drug overdose in the township as a crime scene,” Kress said
“We are trying to better understand where the drugs are coming from, who is supplying the drugs and who are the associates in the drug trade.” He admits, though, it can be tangled web.
“What is really troubling is the number of fatalities that drug overdoses are leading to,” Kress said.
That’s what Kress says keeps him working so hard to find ways to lessen the problems that drugs bring to a community.