Silva wants criminals to see Pawhuska as a “no-go”

Robert Smith
Nick Silva, chief of the Pawhuska Police Department, gives city councilors a briefing about the methamphetamine trade in the city and its effects on property crime. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

The chief of the Pawhuska Police Department last week told city councilors he wants the department to work toward the goal of making the city a “no-go zone” for criminals. Under Silva’s leadership, the PPD has taken an increasingly assertive approach to targeting property and drug crimes.

Chief Nick Silva said he and other officers have put in many hours recently, doing surveillance on drug suspects and the methamphetamine trade in Pawhuska. He estimated that some 85 percent of drugs purchased in the city are bought with stolen property items, or proceeds from property theft.

“They’re stealing property and they’re trading it for methamphetamine,” Silva said of local drug users. He said that meth comes into Pawhuska from Tulsa, Skiatook, Ponca City and Kansas. He briefly described what police officers have learned about the activities of a higher-level drug supplier whose service area reportedly included Pawhuska. Silva said that person would go to Mexican drug cartel representatives for his drugs. Lower-level dealers would not go directly to the cartels, Silva said.

Silva told city councilors that the drug cartels are not directly involved in activity in Pawhuska, but he mentioned that other criminal organizations have shown up in smaller communities. An example he gave was of the reported presence of the Irish Mob in Skiatook.

Silva said there has been speculation that drug criminals could start to attempt to sell heroin in Pawhuska, which he said would be particularly alarming because the heroin would likely have Fentanyl in it. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is considered much more powerful than morphine.

“We’re starting to get better applicants,” Silva said, commenting that the department’s approach is drawing the attention of law-enforcement professionals looking for positions. He voiced a desire, in his remarks to the city council, to form what he called a Community Action Team, that would work with the public.

Ward 2 Councilor Jourdan Foran asked Silva if he would be willing to give his presentation in a larger public setting, and he said that he would be willing to do that.