Drug task forces need more funding

Published:

Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro

Even the most casual reader of the arrest reports and court proceedings published day in and day out in this newspaper would have to agree that the problem of illegal drug use in this area is serious and never-ending. ...

Battling the problem always involves a multifaceted approach. Theres the prevention and education side, where people young people in particular are warned about the destructiveness of illegal drug use and made aware of the consequences in a myriad of ways.

Theres the treatment side, where a variety of methods are used to unlock the viselike grip of drugs on people. Success is possible but never easy. It is expensive and time-consuming, and for every person who kicks the habit, the risk of sliding back into drug use remains.

Then theres the enforcement side, when the police, prosecutors and courts do their part in the war on drugs: arresting, trying and convicting violators, whether they be users, dealers or, as is often the case, both.

With the stakes so high, communities cannot afford to ease up in any of these areas. Unfortunately, in Kentucky, we appear to be about ready to scale back on one important piece of our triple attack on drugs.

With their federal support already cut heavily, Kentuckys multicounty drug task forces are facing the prospect of zero additional funding from the state. Federal funding for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, which directs money to education, treatment and enforcement efforts around the state, was cut 38 percent.

Kentucky has 13 drug task forces, funded mainly by the federal government. Enforcement of drug laws is their primary task. As one state official said, not having the task forces at full strength tells drug pushers, We dont have the resources to fight you.

Gov. Ernie Fletchers proposed budget does not include additional money for the task forces to make up for the cuts. ...

Fletchers budget has money for drug treatment initiatives, regional drug courts and treatment for nonviolent offenders in county jails. All are welcomed.

But without a strong emphasis on investigating, locating and arresting drug suppliers and dealers, including methamphetamine makers, drug trafficking will almost assuredly increase. ...

In tight budget times, funding every good cause is difficult, we know, but the war on drugs cannot be fought well if the law enforcement officers on the front lines of the fight dont have the means to do their jobs.

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