Escambia County's drug task force has led dozens of successful investigations and prosecutions over the years, working hard to fight a drug battle in which they are often overmatched thanks to the vast drug trade in our country.
But the task force – and others across the country – have been dealt a major blow with drastic cuts in funding the grant program that helps keep those law enforcement programs alive.
If Congress doesn't restore the funding and already strapped local and state governments are not able to make up the difference, our efforts at fighting the drug war will be hampered.
Police departments and the sheriff's department will of course continue to fight drug crimes, but one of the biggest advantages to the drug task force is the coordination involved – agencies were able to devote several officers, working together, to fight the biggest crime problem in our county.
Escambia County, like so many other jurisdictions, sees most of its crime arising from drug problems, whether it's people stealing to feed a drug habit or abusing loved ones while high. Crime fighting techniques like coordination through drug task forces and treatment options through drug court have been innovative ways to help curb drug crimes.
But losing funding is only going to force the county, and so many other local communities, to take steps backward in their fight against crime. We know that our local governments and agencies will do what they can to make up the difference, but the federal funding was a major portion of the drug task force budget.
We hope Congress will be able to restore funding to this program and help agencies across the country fight a problem all of us share.