Drug task forces across Kentucky will face severe budget restrictions — and in some cases closure — after Congress approved a bill last week that will slash the task forces’ largest source of funding, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. The new federal appropriations law cuts $350 million from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program.
“Without these task forces, you are not going to have people in many of these areas conducting undercover drug investigations,” said Tommy Loving of the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force. “You can’t do drug investigations without money for informants, money for overtime and money for salaries.” Some legislators would like task forces to fund themselves with forfeitures — money seized from drug dealers. Those figures aren’t consistent and some agencies get very little in forfeiture money. The Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task force has seized as much as $78,000 in drug forfeitures in some years, but it has had many years were it claimed only $6,000 or $7,000. “It’s not the type of revenue you want to plan your budget on,” Loving said. Said David Steingraber, president of the National Criminal Justice Association: “Congress has just made the job of every police officer in this country more difficult.”