Task force: Now what?

Published 10:53 pm Monday, July 7, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
With federal funds being all but eliminated for the 21st Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force, area police departments are looking at ways to employ those officers and keep up the fight against drug crimes.
With funds for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant likely to be cut drastically in Congress this year, counter-drug law enforcement agencies across the country are looking at cuts. Local drug task forces in Alabama receive their funding through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Development, which administers the federal funding. ADECA officials said last week that the allotment the state receives is to be cut from $4 million to $1.7 million.
Federal funds are awarded in arrears, Sanks said, which means funds for the year beginning Oct. 1 are gone.
Five law enforcement officers from various departments in Escambia County cover local DTF activities.
Officers who are employed with Brewton and Atmore Police Departments will be retained by their respective agencies.
McGougin said he expects to continue work in the area of narcotics investigations no regardless of the future of the DTF.
Two other officers will remain on staff at the Atmore Police Department and will maintain their work in narcotics investigations, Atmore Police Chief Jason Dean said.
In addition to limited federal funds, operating expenses are covered by funds from Escambia County Sheriff's Department, Atmore Police Department, Brewton Police Department, Escambia County District Attorney's Office and the Escambia County Commission.
DTF staff members are comprised of two officers each from Brewton and Atmore Police Departments, one deputy from the Escambia County Sheriff's Department and a prosecutor and secretary from the Escambia County District Attorneys Office.
Information on the future of the Escambia County deputy and district attorney office employees was not available as of press time.