The Tri-County Drug Task Force, which operates in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Black Hawk and Bremer Counties, has received a $261,979 grant from the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy to continue its operations for the next year.
The division is one of the most successful in Iowa. In 2011, the Task Force made 152, seized about $900,000 in drugs, and busted 28 meth labs.
"Our guys do a great job working our narcotics on the street and long-term investigations. Also, we have a pretty high crime rate for the drugs coming in and out of here," said Lt. Corbin Payne -- who oversees the Tri-County Drug Task Force.
Payne explains, the Task Force relies on two federal grants to operate. The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) is the big one -- providing the bulk of funding for the team's salaries.
"Seventy-five percent of our staff is funded by the Byrne grant," Payne said.
News that the Task Force is receiving a quarter million dollars in JAG funding -- the second highest in Iowa -- may sound like a win for the department. But in reality, it's a cut of nearly 25 percent.
"I knew it was going to be a cut, but I didn't know how much. And we're probably being cut over $100,000," said Payne.
Payne said the division will have to find a different source of funding to make up for this shortfall. That will likely mean more money from Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Black Hawk County.
In the short term, the discrepancy should not impact their day-to-day investigations. But if the cuts continue, Payne said it will compromise their efforts.
"The community needs to see the Tri-County Drug Task Force, narcotics alone, needs to continue and needs to be funded," he added.
Statewide, JAG provided $3.3 million in funding to drug prevention, treatment, and enforcement programs. That's down almost $1 million from last year.
Payne is hoping the drastic cuts will spark concern from area citizens, and in turn, encourage them to speak to their legislators.
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