While some drug task forces are cash-strapped and bracing for federal funding cuts, the 10th Judicial District’s interdiction team is enjoying such prosperity that it is giving money away.
The Charleston, Tenn.-based drug unit last week doled out $450,000 to the nine law enforcement agencies that support its work. The one-time grants were given as the drug task force celebrates its 20th year.
“They have given for the last 20 years, and now we can give back,” said task force director Mike Hall.
District Attorney General Steven Bebb said in a statement that “this is only a milestone in the future successes that we can expect from these dedicated men and women” of the drug task force.
Law enforcement agencies in Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties pay $2,000 a year or provide an equal amount in services to support the drug task force.
The task force relies on drug and property seizures, which last year netted a record $3 million. It does not rely on the federal grant program that is in danger of being cut.
With 16 officers, the task force is second in size only to West Tennessee’s drug interdiction team.
The 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force investigates all types of drug cases in the four-county area, but is most widely known for its interdiction efforts on Interstate 75.
“With I-75 being such a drug pipeline, they are a very key part,” said Bradley County Sheriff ’s Department spokesman Bob Gault. “That is very generous of the drug task force to share their proceeds.”
Mr. Gault said the department’s portion of the grant will be placed in the drug fund for enforcement and education.
The $50,000 grant nearly doubled the drug fund for small departments such as Benton, Tenn., which previously had $34,000 in its coffers. Chief Rocky King said the grant money may be used to increase Benton’s law enforcement technology.
The department is planning to add laptop computers in its seven patrol cars.
“That’s a large amount for a small department,” the chief said.
Departments that will get a $50,000 grant from the 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force include Sweetwater, Madisonville, Monroe County, McMinn County, Polk County, Benton, Charleston, Cleveland and Bradley County.