City forms narcotics unit

Published 9:13 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
The recent forming of the Brewton Narcotics Unit is the result of the loss of a large part of funding for the 21st Judicial Drug Task. Funding of the DTF was cut to the bone when a federal grant was drastically reduced last year.
Brewton Police Chief Monte McGougin said the newly formed unit will continue to work on the drug problems facing Brewton.
Even though officers will still be investigating drug issues in Brewton, county officials are still searching for funds to help everyone in Escambia County.
Prosecuting drug cases is one of the most important aspects of work by the DTF, Smith said.
Currently, police officers employed with the Brewton, Flomaton and Atmore police departments work as DTF officers, Smith said.
County Commission Chairman David Stokes said the county is seeking funds through several avenues but no definite help has been secured.
Stokes said the work of Smith has been invaluable and his efforts will be rewarded.
McGougin said his officers will respond to other agencies if assistance is needed.
McGougin said although the two officers will primarily be responsible for investigating drug cases, their work duties will not hamper any other activity of the department.
Cases resulting from work by Brewton Narcotics Unit agents will be handled through the DTF office, McGougin said.
Smith said funding is limited, but there are avenues being explored to keep drug investigations going in the county.
In December 2007, Congress unveiled their plan to cut the Byrne/Justice Assistance Grants program from $520 million nationwide to $170.4 million. The cut represented a 67 percent decrease in a budget that funds drug task force units across the United States. The House passed the bill followed by passing by the Senate. President Bush signed the spending package late in December 2007.