Pubdate: Tue, 14 Mar 2006
Source: Morris Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2006 Morris Daily Herald
Author: Jo Ann Hustis
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Say Money Necessary To Continue Drug Fight

Cuts proposed in federal money to help fight  methamphetamine will 
make it more difficult to punch a  hole in the drug-cycle system, 
Grundy County State's  Attorney Sheldon Sobol said.

"The fact of the matter is, we've got a real drug  problem, not only 
in Grundy County, but in this  country," he said Monday, during a 
press conference in  Morris in which Congress was urged to reinstate 
funds  to fight methamphetamine producers and dealers.

"Without the Byrne-Justice Assistance grants, your  ability to be as 
effective in stopping that, or  preventing that, or having some 
ability to punch a hole  in the system's cycle, just won't be there."

"Our local law enforcement officers in Morris, Coal  City, and 
Minooka, and the county, are very effective  in getting the people 
who have drugs on the street," he  added. "But the suppliers of those 
people, that's a  MANS job."

MANS is the acronym for Metropolitan Area Narcotics  Squad, an area 
cooperative of police agencies formed to  battle drug use and abuse.

State Representative Careen Gordon sponsored the press  conference, 
and is supporting House Resolution 998,  which urges the federal 
government to fully fund both  the Byrne-Justice and Community 
Oriented Policing  Services grants. Both programs help fight meth.

Sobol is a firm believer in the COPS grants, which give  local law 
enforcement departments the money to put  additional officers on the 
street, both on the county  and municipal level. The city of Morris 
and village of  Coal City have utilized COPS grants in the past.

"There's a correlation between the more officers you  have on the 
street and their ability to suppress crime  and be effective in crime 
prevention," Sobol noted.

He said the Byrne-Justice grants are an even more  important 
component because they are targeted toward  interdiction in the area 
of drug offenses with  establishment of drug courts.

"What hits home here is, we have a number of officers  through MANS 
who come from different municipalities,  but they are reimbursed for 
their salary through  serving in the MANS unit, which does a vast 
majority of  interdiction efforts with the drug suppliers."

Coal City Police Chief Dennis Neary noted the village  hired four new 
police officers for three years with the  funds received by way of 
COPS grants in 1997-1998.

"Which worked out really well. We got our manpower up,  and they were 
doing a good job," he said. "Now things  are starting to look like 
federal funding cuts for the  Byrne-Justice grants, more so than the 
COPS grants."

Neary said he can no longer apply for the federal  grants to get more 
officers on the force.

"I'm going to have to go through the city and try to  boost our 
budget to hire more people," he added.

Grundy County Sheriff Terry Marketti pointed out that  if funding is 
cut in the way it's proposed, a number of  smaller police agencies in 
Grundy County will not be  able to afford having patrolmen away from 
their own  agencies to take part in agencies such as MANS.

"They're not only losing the manpower because they're  working in an 
undercover capacity, but they're also  losing the funding they depend 
on to operate their  normal police operations," he said.

"And that's a big part of it. If we can't get the  agencies to 
contribute the manpower because their  funding has been cut, our 
undercover units will go down  the tubes. Some of the larger agencies 
can afford to do  that, but the smaller ones that are part of the 
MANS unit cannot."

Marketti said it is hard for law enforcement agencies  to operate 
without having enough people to do the work.

Meth accounts for nearly 90 percent of the drug cases  in the 
Midwest, Gordon noted.

"It doesn't make sense to stop funding programs that  are helping law 
enforcement officials catch meth  dealers," she added. " We must 
remain diligent in our  efforts to fight meth in our local communities."

La Salle County Sheriff Tom Templeton, Morris Police  Chief Doug 
Hayse, and Mazon Police Chief Jeff Marques  were invited to take part 
in the press conference, but  were not present.
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