DTF grant short of budget

Published 2:37 pm Thursday, December 15, 2011

Even though Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced grant awards to several counties to aid in their efforts to fight drugs, Escambia County’s fight will still cost a considerable amount of money.

In a Thursday announcement, Bentley said the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force, which serves Escambia County, had been awarded a $97,350 grant to assist in operation costs for the unit. Escambia County’s coffers will have to ante up an additional $32,450 in matching funds to implement the grant.

Escambia County Administrator Tony Sanks said the grant, which covers the 2012 fiscal year, has dropped from the amount awarded for 2010.

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“Last year we received a grant for $130, 285,” Sanks said. “Even that amount doesn’t being to cover all of the expenses of operation for the Drug Task Force.”

Sanks said the budget for DTF operations is currently at $260,000 for fiscal 2011.

Sanks said the DTF unit, which is made up of law enforcement officers and officials within Escambia County and the City of Atmore, is responsible for coming up with the additional funds needed.

“Between the county and the City of Atmore, we have to come up with the difference between the budget for the unit and what we receive in grant funds,” Sanks said. “If we don’t make up the difference, it would certainly hinder the DTF’s efforts to eradicate drugs and prosecute drug cases.”

The grant for the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force is part of the grants totaling $678,701 to combat illegal drugs and drug-related violent crime in seven south Alabama counties, Bentley said.

“Illegal drugs are a destructive force that damages lives and communities,” Bentley said. “I commend the agents of these task forces for their dedication to protecting Alabama families by removing drugs and drug offenders from our neighborhoods.”

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants.