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Task Force funding continues to decrease

By By MaryClaire Foster
The $80,000 the 21st Circuit Drug Task Force received this week from Gov. Bob Riley’s office is appreciated, but leaves officials wanting more.
The money is a sizable cut back from the force’s original budget of $210,000 and the $140,000 they received last year.
Because of previous cut backs, the task force was split from being focused exclusively on county-wide operations with members in one building to members in three separate buildings working on narcotics cases as well as standard officer duties for their respective cities.
The task force is now composed of one full-time office, a prosecutor, a clerical worker and two investigators each on staff for Atmore and Brewton.
Smith said these major drug dealers are using Interstate 65 to traffic drugs and not having a full force of officers to focus countywide hurts operations.
Smith expressed frustration over the U.S. Department of Justice’s allotment of $500 million to the Mexican police force, along with a nearly equal amount to Columbian police forces and similar funds to other foreign countries.
Atmore Police Chief Jason Dean conveyed similar frustrations.
Dean said they will continue to keep the two investigators on staff and will work with the other agencies to help out as much as possible.
The press release from Gov. Riley’s office stated at least $8,000 of local funds had already been matched and committed to the task force.
Atmore Public Safety Director Glenn Carlee said they do not know yet what portion of the $80,000 the City of Atmore will receive, but the city will match it up to 50 percent.
Smith said he is thankful to the District Attorney and County Commissioner’s offices for helping to fund the task force.