Three drug task forces in the area recently received federal funding crucial to their mission to reduce drug trafficking.
The Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force, Barren River Drug Task Force and South Central Kentucky Drug Task Force were recipients of funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant.
The funding, announced last week by Gov. Andy Beshear and Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Mary Noble, is anticipated to help local drug task forces pay the operating costs associated with drug investigations.
A total of more than $1.4 million was awarded to 13 Kentucky agencies. Bowling Green-Warren County received $141,586, Barren River received $106,430 and South Central Kentucky received $107,439.
“This funding will go into our overall operating budget,” said Tommy Loving, director for the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force. “It allows us to keep doing what we do without having to depend as much on city or county money.”
Named for a New York City police officer who was murdered in 1988 while watching over the home of a witness in a drug investigation, the Byrne JAG grant program is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the federal Department of Justice and is the leading source of federal justice funding to local and state jurisdictions.
The federal funds are provided to state administering agencies based on a formula that takes into account population and crime statistics.
Byrne JAG money that comes to Kentucky is then awarded annually to local agencies on a competitive application basis.
The funds awarded to agencies can be used to hire personnel, purchase equipment and supplies, support training efforts and buy technical assistance and information systems for agencies.
Jacky Hunt, director of the South Central Kentucky Drug Task Force, covering Logan and Simpson counties, said the funding will support efforts to coordinate enforcement strategies in investigations covering multiple jurisdictions as well as public education campaigns.
“This funding is critical for us,” Hunt said. “Without it, it would be really hard to do business.”
Local law enforcement realized years ago that many drug investigations encompass a scope that goes beyond county lines, or even international borders in some instances.
Hunt said drug task forces that bring multiple city and county police agencies under one umbrella make it easier for officers to share information across jurisdictions and connect the dots in investigations where drugs are traveling into the area from points all over the map.
The Byrne JAG grant buttresses those efforts financially.
“You’re bringing several agencies together, so now they’re all communicating and in the know and way more organized,” Hunt said. “Without (the grant funding) it would be a real burden on local departments to fund us at the level we need to operate.”
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