Pubdate: Mon, 7 Jul 2008
Source: Atmore Advance, The (AL)
Copyright: 2008, Atmore Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Lisa Tindell


With federal funds being all but eliminated, officers with the 21st 
Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force may be changing their duties.

"The Task Force has an annual operating budget of $280,000," county 
administrator Tony Sanks said. "Two years ago, federal funds made up 
75 percent of that amount with agencies adding the other 25 percent 
of the funding. Last year, that amount was cut to a 50-50 match. This 
year, the federal funds have been cut to $94,250."

Federal funds are awarded in arrears, Sanks said, which means funds 
for the year beginning Oct. 1 are gone.

"We don't have the promise of any funds for the next fiscal year," 
Sanks said. "We hope that something can be worked out but the 
prospects are not looking good."

Five law enforcement officers from various departments in Escambia 
County cover local DTF activities. Officers who are employed with 
Brewton and Atmore Police Departments will be retained by their 
respective agencies.

Two other officers will remain on staff at the Atmore Police 
Department and will maintain their work in narcotics investigations, 
Atmore Police Chief Jason Dean said.

"We will keep our offices on staff," Dean said. "Their primary duties 
will be narcotics investigations. They will also work with other 
investigators on criminal cases when they are needed. We certainly 
want to keep narcotics investigations going in our city."

Brewton Police Department will also keep their officers on staff.

"Right now we are still in limbo about what the future holds," 
Brewton police chief Monte McGougin said. "Our officers won't have to 
look for other jobs no matter what. They will still be employed by 
Brewton Police and will continue their work in narcotics 
investigations." McGougin said he expects to continue work in the 
area of narcotics investigations no regardless of the future of the DTF.

"We hope that things can be worked out to keep the DTF in tact," 
McGougin said. "But no matter what, Brewton will continue to have 
investigators working on eliminating narcotics from our community."

In addition to limited federal funds, operating expenses are covered 
by funds from Escambia County Sheriff's Department, Atmore Police 
Department, Brewton Police Department, Escambia County District 
Attorney's Office and the Escambia County Commission.

DTF staff members are comprised of two officers each from Brewton and 
Atmore Police Departments, one deputy from the Escambia County 
Sheriff's Department and a prosecutor and secretary from the Escambia 
County District Attorneys Office.

Information on the future of the Escambia County deputy and district 
attorney office employees was not available as of press time. 
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