• 57°

Officials pleased

with drug grant

By MICHELLE WILSON

Staff Writer

Published Oct. 7, 1999

ENTERPRISE – Pike County law enforcement officials say they are pleased with a renewed grant that funds the12th Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force.

A total of $240,000 was awarded on Sept. 30 to the Pike County Commission to provide for the continued operation of the Drug Task Force.

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage and Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas joined other area officials at a press conference here Wednesday morning called by Mark E. Fuller, district attorney of the 12th Judicial Circuit. Fuller announced the grant renewal to elected and appointed officials from Pike and Coffee counties who gathered at the Coffee County courthouse.

Fuller said this will be the eighth year the program has been funded, making it one of the longest running grants in the state.

The award is a renewal of the Edward Byrne Formula Grant made available by Congress through the U.S. Department of Justice. In Alabama, these grants are administered by Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

The drug task force operates in Pike and Coffee counties with the common goal of fighting drugs, Fuller said. It is a multi-agency operation involving the Pike and Coffee County Sheriffs’ departments, local municipal law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office and state and federal agencies.

In Pike County, the work of the Drug Task Force leads to the prosecution of more than 100 drug cases each year, Thomas said.

"Initially, this grant allowed us to put the Drug Task Force together," he said.

"This money allows the task force to continue to operate."

He said the cooperative effort among his department, the Troy Police Department and other area law enforcement agencies who are members of the Drug Task Force is very beneficial.

Everage said "the funding helps a great deal.

"The biggest advantage to the task force is the working relationship we have with other agencies," he said. "We still have plenty of drugs in Troy and Pike County but this has certainly helped."

"These funds will be utilized in the overall objective of ridding our community of drugs," Everage said.

The sheriff and police chief thanked area representatives in the Alabama Legislature who assisted in getting the money. The area’s legislative delegation – made up of Sen. Jimmy Holley (D-Elba), Rep. Alan Boothe (D-Troy), Sen. Wendell Mitchell (D-Luverne) and Rep. Terry Spicer (D-Elba) – asked Siegelman to continue to fund the program.

"In this time of tight money, there is a tendency for government to stop funding programs that have been working for server al years," Boothe said. "It is important to this area to have this money, and we reiterated that point to the governor."

Fuller said, "Our region is fortunate in having the support of Gov. Siegelman and our legislative delegation Sen. Jimmy Holley, Sen. Wendall Mitchell, Rep. Alan Boothe and Rep. Terry Spicer."

Officials said that without a doubt the drug task force has had a tremendous impact in combating the possession and sale of illicit drugs. Drugs are the underlying reason many crimes are committed, Fuller said.

"Without the assistance of our legislative delegation and friends at Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, law enforcement in the 12th Judicial Circuit would be seriously handicapped in stemming the influx of drugs into our communities," he said. "Our primary responsibility is our children and any effort we in law enforcement can make in protecting them cannot and should not be ignored."