Sheriff: DTF operating normally

Published 12:29 am Friday, March 17, 2017

2 questions still linger for agency on funding

Nearly six months after it was announced that the 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force did not receive grant funding from ADECA, Sheriff Dennis Meeks said that things are still operating under normal procedures despite two lingering questions.

“I’m still paying for my two guys and Andalusia and Opp are still paying for theirs,” he said. “Everything is still rolling along. DTF is not about to close.”

Meeks said there are only two questions lingering about the situation.

“The first is if the commission is going to make Tahni (Johnson) full time or part time,” he said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the county commission tabled Meeks’ request to move the DTF part-time secretary to full-time status and share her with the county administrator’s office.

Additionally, Meeks said there is question about where funds for expenditures for regular operations are to come from.

“All of that is still to be determined,” he said.

In the past, the sheriff’s office, APD and OPD provided officers, just as they do now, but the organization depended upon the grant funding for operations and clerical help.

The DTF lost at least $50,000 in funding with the loss of the grant.

In the last fiscal year, the DTF received a $50,000 grant, which was a number that had been steadily declining. The grant was for $265,000 in 2009; in 2010 and 2011 it decreased to $132,165; for 2012 it was $98,000; in 2013 it was $64,214; and $50,000 in 2014.

At an October DTF board meeting, the police chiefs of Andalusia and Opp asked for documentation of cases that were self-generated versus cases that were adopted from patrol units.

And District Attorney Walt Merrell had a temporary plan that would allow the cities of Opp and Andalusia and the county commission as well as any smaller town who would wish to pledge money to the DTF, to have time to make their decisions.

That plan was to use asset forfeiture money for things such as rent.

The county commission has been paying the salary of the part-time secretary.