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Enhancing Quality of Life with BENT: A Vital Component

PENDLETON – Established in 1983, the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT) has evolved over the years to adapt to changing circumstances. Joining BENT in 2002, Pendleton Police Det. Sgt. Rick Jackson is transitioning from leading the organization to overseeing a broader spectrum of cases within the department. Despite this change, Jackson affirms that BENT will remain steadfast in its mission, emphasizing that while its primary focus is narcotics, its impact extends to enhancing the quality of life in every community.

Reflecting on a puzzling encounter, Jackson shared an incident where a police officer questioned whether the passage of Measure 110 made him feel as though his entire career had been in vain. Dismissing the notion with a hint of incredulity, Jackson expressed his commitment to serving the communities diligently. He reassured the public that despite legislative shifts such as the decriminalization of drugs in Oregon, BENT will persevere in collaboration with various partners to ensure accountability for offenders who pose a threat to community well-being.

Operating as a collaborative regional effort, BENT is led by Pendleton Police Lieutenant Brandon Gomez and comprises a team of dedicated professionals, including an Oregon State Police sergeant and nine full-time narcotics detectives. The team members hail from diverse law enforcement agencies, including Pendleton, Hermiston, Umatilla Tribal, Boardman police departments, Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, reflecting a unified approach to combatting criminal activities.

Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston commended BENT’s unwavering dedication amidst evolving legal landscapes, emphasizing the team’s consistent delivery of thorough investigations that yield impactful outcomes. Highlighting the multifaceted nature of BENT’s operations, Jackson underscored that beyond drug-related activities, the team addresses a spectrum of crimes, including but not limited to violent offenses and human trafficking, all intertwined with elements of drug trafficking or substance abuse.

Acknowledging Jackson’s decision to transition away from narcotics, Police Chief Chuck Byram expressed pride in his colleague’s contributions and emphasized the importance of adaptability in leadership. Byram emphasized the need for flexibility in organizational structures to align with evolving needs, recognizing the value of course correction when necessary.

Recognizing the significance of mentorship in his career trajectory, Jackson now plays a mentoring role within the department, with Byram highlighting the pivotal role of experienced officers in shaping future leaders. Byram emphasized the importance of succession planning to ensure a seamless transition of knowledge and expertise within the agency, paving the way for continuous improvement and progress.