Funding cuts cripple Georgia's drug task forces - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Funding cuts cripple Georgia's drug task forces

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January 14, 2008

Lakeland - The South Georgia Drug Task Force works to rid the streets of Echols, Lanier, Berrien, Clinch, Cook and Atkinson Counties of drugs. 

Since 1990, they've worked hard to get dangerous drug dealers off the streets and behind bars. 

"We are on our seventeenth year. To date its made 4200 cases in those 17 years," says agent Jamy Steinberg.

"These are the drug dealers that our Sheriffs and our Chiefs get the most complaints about and are the most visible in the drug dealing that goes on in our communities," adds Special Agent Micah Ward.

But Congress just gave these criminals a leg up.  They cut federal aid to our nation's task force by 67%, from 520 million to 170 million dollars.

For the South Georgia Drug Task Force, that means 75% of their $225,00 budget is gone, which could put these agents out of business and our communities at risk.

"Without these task forces in place, that segment of the drug world will not be fought because there are simply not enough other resources to do it with," Ward says.

 These drug officers are now struggling to find ways to make ends meet.  "We had some vacant positions right now that we were in the process of hiring for and we'll probably be putting those on hold now, not knowing what money will be looking like in the future," Steinberg says.

The cuts will go into effect July first but the task force will fight to stay in business while they try to secure more funding for the federal budget season in 2009.

Task force agents say all of Georgia's elected officials were against the cut and they are urging all Georgians to call their local officials to voice their concerns.

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