FLORENCE — The Lauderdale County Drug Task Force will continue to operate despite a $50,000 shortfall in state funding.
The task force is receiving $70,000 from the state this year, Gov. Robert Bentley announced Thursday.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the funds through the U.S. Department of Justice.
Last year, the task force received $120,000 in funding. Task force officials have asked local entities if they will make up the deficit.
“They keep cutting and cutting, but we have to have the task force,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Ronnie Willis said. “It’s unfortunate that the drug problem is so bad that we have to have a drug unit, but it is a necessity. We can’t do without it.”
The task force includes the Sheriff’s Department, the Florence Police Depart- ment and the Lauderdale County District Attorney’s Office.
“Illegal drugs are a threat to our families and communities,” Bentley said in a prepared statement released Thursday. “I am pleased to support the efforts of the task force to combat the use and sale of these harmful substances in Lauderdale County.”
The task force has four members assigned from the police and sheriff’s departments.
“The grant money doesn’t come close to handling the salaries of the agents or the general operation of the unit,” Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler said.
He said if task force members didn’t devote more resources to the unit, the area would suffer. “We would have more issues with property crimes for sure and likely an increase in all crimes,” he said.
“We appreciate the funding we did receive and just hope we don’t get cut anymore,” Willis said. “The operation of the task force is vital in our constant battle with drugs. I don’t want to even think about what would happen without the unit.”
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