Police on the front lines of the drug war may suffer a critical blow in October when five counterdrug training academies, face closure amid federal funding cuts, reports the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger. Legislators scrambling to save the program hope it's not too late, but many express concern about the future of the academies that for more than two decades have taught local, regional, state and federal law enforcement officers how to get drugs off the streets. “The training academy is at serious risk of not surviving,” said Mississippi National Guard Maj. Gen. Augustus Collins, who oversees the oldest and most established of the five facilities, the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy located on a sprawling campus at the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Ms.
It has trained more than 100,000 officers in a series of intensive, hands-on courses like advanced technical surveillance, meth lab recognition and dismantling drug trafficking organizations. All of it is taught by expert instructors and at no cost to the participating agencies. Law enforcement chiefs statewide consider the academy a crucial asset in their ability to crack down on drugs and drug-related crimes, which account for 78 percent of illegal activities overall.