Task Force gets state funds to fight drugs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Staff Writer

The fight against drugs is intensifying in Pike County.

During a Tuesday morning press conference, the 12th Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force announced a total of $306,262 in state funds has been earmarked to outfit the local "army."

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The Drug Task Force ­ comprised of law enforcement officers from Coffee and Pike counties ­ was formed in 1990. Since its inception, the unit has been successful in over 4,000 investigations into the illicit use and sale of drugs. Those investigations have led to over 2,600 arrests.

"This task force has been one of the most successful combatants in the war against drugs and also prides itself as being one of the longest running grants in the state of Alabama," said Assistant District Attorney Larry Jarrell said during the press conference.

He said the task force’s success would not have been possible without support from state leaders and funding, like the funding through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs granted by Gov. Don Siegelman.

State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, said the grant money allotted for this year is about $60,000 more than the task force received last year.

"The war against drugs is ongoing," Boothe said of the importance of having the funding to fight the problem.

As a legislator, getting the funding is not difficult "when you see results on the street," Boothe said referring to the methamphetamine lab put out of business last week.

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said the grant funds manpower and equipment used in the "war" on drugs.

"Good equipment is expensive," Thomas said. "Manpower and equipment are the two main ingredients in fighting drugs."

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said the grant funds are spent only on the task force.

"All of this money is spent on the enforcement of narcotics," Everage said of the money going to the drug task force. "The task force works drugs."

Although much of the money will be used to eliminate illicit drug use and sells in Pike County, the funding will also go to the Violent Crime Task Force.

Thomas said violent crimes and drug use are often related.

"Eighty-five percent of the crimes we work are drug related," Thomas said. "A lot of our violent crimes go hand-in-hand with drugs."

Pike County Administrator Steve Hicks pointed out the municipalities and county commissions provide matching funds for the task force.

"If the cities and counties did not provide assistance, this program could not continue," Hicks said during the press conference.

State Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, played a role in securing the grant, but was not able to attend the press conference because he was out of town.