Law enforcement need more funding to keep drugs off the streets

Over $3 Million in federal grants were awarded to law enforcement agencies throughout Iowa this week; geared toward drug enforcement.

The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, or JAG Grant, helps agencies, such as the Southeast Iowa Inter-Agency Drug Task Force, get drugs and drug dealers off the streets.

The task force relies on grants like JAG to help fund operations. However, because of budget cuts, law enforcement agencies are starting to have to use their savings to help pay for current operations.

â??The JAG Grant we submitted was for around $236,000; just to cover personnel, costs and benefits. We ended up receiving $161,000 to cover these costs. Basically we were cut around $40,000. We will continue to operate because we have savings; and we will use our savings to make up for the cuts in the budget. We will be able to continue to operate for the next couple of years,â?? said Lt. Tom McAndrew of the Ottumwa Police Department.

McAndrew is the head of the task force for southeast Iowa. He says that if funding is not increased, the agency will have to continue to use its savings until it is gone.

â??There is no way that just the police department could have a task force that could be funded by the city only and be able to effectively conduct drug enforcement cases. But right now, we have money in savings and we will just kind of dwindle down as we continue to keep being cut, and at some point we will have to cease operations until something else comes along,â?? said McAndrew.

According to the state, no state funds are used to operate task forces.

Dale Woolery of the Governorâ??s Office of Drug Control Policy told KTVO Wednesday that, â??No state funds are appropriated for task forces. Typically, it is a combination of local funding and federal grants from our office. Some may also supplement with small amounts of other funding (e.g., other federal grants, drug forfeitures, etc.), but that varies by task force and circumstance. A few years ago, we did secure state funding as a stopgap measure to augment task force support for a couple of years when federal grant funding dropped to a low pointâ?¦ but that was temporary.â??