Finance committee recommends $10K to county drug task forcePublished 9:12am Tuesday, March 19, 2013
At its meeting Thursday, the Ironton finance committee favorably recommended a $10,000 donation to the Lawrence Drug and Major Crimes Task Force.
Brigham Anderson, county prosecutor, came to the meeting to ask for assistance in matching grant funds needed to operate the program.
The task force was started in 1998 by then prosecuting attorney J.B. Collier Jr., and it has operated out of that office ever since. It is the only crime task force in the state that is a single-county task force.
This year the task force, which operates solely on grant funding, is up for $160,000 in funds though the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program and an Ohio Drug Law Enforcement Fund grant.
Anderson said he must match $38,500 to receive the grant money.
“The grant money is contingent upon us matching $38,500,” Anderson said. “Without the matched funds we will be unable to get them from the Ohio Department of Criminal Justice Services and the JAG grant.”
Anderson told the committee the money is not just used to pay salaries for the task force’s six members, but it goes to mandatory training and equipment as well. The money does not, however, fund the prosecutor’s office or go to the salaries of the prosecutor and assistant prosecutors.
Aaron Bollinger, finance committee member and detective on the task force, said the task force has a large impact on Ironton.
“Just from my experience on the task force for the past 13 years, it has consistently been 60 to 80 percent of the cases have derived from the City of Ironton,” Bollinger said.
Acting Ironton Police Chief Chris Bowman, also a task force member, said that number could even be higher.
Anderson told the committee that in 2012, the task force investigated about 70 cases throughout the county and a substantial number were in Ironton.
The task force investigates drug crime, as well as murders, rape and burglary.
“The last murder that happened here in the city, every guy on the task force was present within probably 10 or 15 minutes on the scene,” Anderson said.
Committee members Mike Lutz and Kevin Waldo recommend that the matter be taken to city council for a vote at its next meeting. Bollinger abstained from the vote, as he is a member of the task force.
“We are trying to lure economic development and someone coming into town, they want to know there is someone actively pursuing the eradication of drugs and drug crime,” Waldo said. “… If you dig deep enough, in about every one of the criminal actions that involve Ironton or Lawrence County residents, drugs are at the foundation of it in some fashion. So I would be very much in favor of this.”