Pubdate: Sun, 05 Sep 2004
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2004 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: Owen Covington
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Treatment Getting More Attention

Funding for the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force and other regional drug
task forces has been cut for the coming year as the state shifts more
attention to drug treatment and education.

The Pennyrile task force, which covers a 10-county area in western
Kentucky, including Muhlenberg and McLean counties, has lost more than
$70,000 in funding from the federal Edward Byrne grant administered by
the state each year for law enforcement purposes, according to task
force director Cheyenne Albro.

"This comes as a bit of a surprise," Albro said. "It will definitely
affect our effectiveness."

Last fiscal year, the task force received $454,000 of the $7.5 million
awarded through the grant program to the state, said Chris Gilligan,
spokesman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

The Pennyrile task force requested $456,000 for the current fiscal
year, which began in July, and was awarded $381,427 of the $6.9
million awarded to the state, Gilligan said.

"There wasn't enough money to go around for everybody," Gilligan said.
"We know we had some good programs that weren't funded. We had to make
some tough choices."

Gov. Ernie Fletcher last week announced the formation of a
comprehensive drug control plan that includes the creation of the
Office of Drug Control Policy and more of an emphasis on treatment and

The new plan was based on the recommendations of the Statewide Drug
Control Assessment Summit, which issued a final report last week after
meeting with community and law enforcement groups around the state
during the last five months.

The shift to education and treatment factors into the cuts in task
force funding, Gilligan said. Funding to 31 task forces in the state
that receive Byrne grant money was cut at least 5 percent, and then
other factors were taken into account in determining how much each
task force would receive, he said.

The Pennyrile task force received a 15 percent reduction, which
Gilligan said was about average for the drug task forces. The task
force has been receiving Byrne grant money since 1988, he said.

The reduction in funding leaves two positions on the eight-member
staff in limbo, Albro said. The Byrne grant money was primarily
devoted to general operations for the task force, Albro said.

A $700,000 federal grant to fight methamphetamine in western Kentucky
may be used to fund those two positions during the coming year, he

The use of the methamphetamine grant money to fund those two positions
will affect the amount available for distribution to law enforcement
agencies in the 33-county area targeted by the grant, Albro said.

"If it's cut again next year, those positions will definitely be
gone," he said.

Albro is a firm believer in devoting more resources to drug treatment
and education, but he does not think that should come at the expense
of enforcement.

"I'm really for that, but the problem is you take away from the effort
to arrest people," he said. "Generally, when someone is arrested is
when they realize they need treatment."
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