Though the county's new Sheriff, John Daughtrey, has placed combating drugs at the top of his priorities, the department's dwindling budget adds an extra challenge to law enforcement.
"Most of the thefts we have, most of the crime we have--it all goes back to drugs," says Sheriff Daughtrey.
Currently, Cook deputies are making the best with what they have. Despite the lack of funding, Sheriff Daughtrey has increased efforts to monitor marijuana growing projects, taking inventory by helicopter every few months.
Daughtrey says besides marijuana, Cook County's biggest problem is illegal use of prescription drugs.
"We're keeping folks mindful that we are looking for drugs," he says. "What we're going to do is find them, destroy them, and if we can make an arrest, that's what we're going to do."
But to monitor drugs effectively, money is necessary. Budget constraints have prevented Cook County Sheriffs from installing necessary software into their patrol vehicles.
Sheriff Daughtrey says the department must somehow raise money to install computers into their cars, allowing deputies to file reports and access information.
"It speeds things up where they don't have to come back to the office to do these things," says Sheriff Daughtrey. "They can do them from the field. That keeps an officer in the field--not in this office. That's where I want them, is in the field."
Though the Sheriff's budget may have seen better days, he's trying to sending a clear message to drug dealers and users that the agency's efforts to battle drugs are stronger than ever before.
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