Federal funding cuts hurt anti-drug efforts - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Federal funding cuts hurt anti-drug efforts

The state has awarded funds to keep county drug task forces afloat in wake of severe federal cuts.  But is it enough?

Kentucky's regional drug task forces need federal funds to remain open.  Without funding, there would be no agency. And with no agency, drugs would flourish.

Tucked into a non-descript location in Elizabethtown is the Greater Hardin County Drug Task Force - a place where ten officers work to eradicate drugs from a six-county region.

Wayne Edwards with the task force explains, "Primarily what we face in Nelson County is marijuana and cocaine, crack cocaine. In Hardin, it's a mix of everything, in Grayson County it's pills."

In 2007, this drug task force netted some 600 arrests in 800 cases.  And this year, Edwards says, "It hasn't slowed down any."

What has slowed down is federal funding -- the Justice Assistance Grant was slashed by 67%. It's money the agency needs to pay salaries and buy vehicles.

Edwards says, "If we are not funded and we can't conduct the number of drug investigations that we currently do, I think you would see drugs in our community flourish."

Facing the possibility of closure, the state stepped in last week using a hybrid of funds from various grants and awarded the task force $200,000. But it's a one-time offer.

According to Edwards, "This would probably be the last year they would be able to do that and there would probably be no funds forthcoming if the federal government didn't put money back into the JAG grant."

Task force members have spent a lot of their time coming to dump sites along rural in Larue County -- dump sites that have included one-step meth labs."  That's a volatile process where meth cooks use a two-liter bottle to concoct the drug -- another reason director Wayne Edwards says there is a need for more funds:  "Of course, obviously, if we run out of money that is going to cease and all the officers would eventually return to their police department. And I would say the drug investigations would be severely curtailed in this area."

The state Office of Drug Control Policy says the money given to the Hardin Task Force came from unrestricted grant money.

Funding for drug task forces nationwide has been on a downward slope since 2004.

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