Officials look for funding for DTF unit

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By Staff
Congress may have cut funding to help, but the war on drugs goes on in Escambia County. And local officials are finding ways to work around the loss of money so that drug cases don't slip through the cracks.
In Brewton, that means a new narcotics unit has officers on the street dedicated to fighting drug crimes in the city limits. The unit will continue to work with other law enforcement agents across the county, but its main focus will be Brewton.
Meanwhile, county officials are still looking for additional funding to make up the lost funds for the drug task force. Congress last year cut funds for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, and with the financial crunch the nation is in right now, any hope of that money being restored looks dim.
But Escambia County officials, including Sheriff Grover Smith, are looking at other avenues for support. Other grant funding could be available, and county leaders are looking under every stone to try to find it.
A lack of funding doesn't mean drug crimes are going to stop, and we're glad that law enforcement officials are finding ways to compensate for the lack of money.
The drug task force is funded at $80,000 this year, but money after this fiscal year is up in the air. A secretary remains in the office to handle paperwork, and a prosecutor is still assigned to try cases.
The drug task force has been successful in our county for several years. We believe our county and city law enforcement officials are committed to making drug crimes a priority, and it will take their creativity and cooperation to continue to fight the problem with less funding.