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State Keeps Cutting Task Force Money

The Lee County Narcotics Task Force says it will continue to do more with less help from the state of Iowa.

Commander Stacy Weber says the task force received about $68,000 from the state in both the current and previous fiscal year.

He says that’s about 1/3 of what the task force received when it was founded in 1992, though he acknowledges the initial grants were considered start-up money.

Weber says the reduction in state funding has not resulted in cuts because Lee County, Keokuk and Fort Madison do a great job of making up the difference.

The Lee County Narcotics Task Force also sells items it seizes on eBay and through public auctions.  At this time, it has a car and a set of sub-woofers on its eBay page.

Weber says it’s estimated roughly 30% of inmates in the county jail were arrested through task force investigations.

“On any given day of the week, a guy could look down there and I would say 30% is probably low. There are only three guys locking these guys up so that is a pretty good statistic.”

Weber says Lee County also leads the state in meth-related activities.  He says that is even more significant because if the task force busts a home with 80 meth-making devices, it is considered one meth lab.

“But let me tell you, to clean that up, it is 80 meth labs because we have to do each one individually.  It takes time and it is expensive.”

Weber says there are times where a task force arrest is even a positive for the person arrested.

“It gets them off the street (and) it gives them the opportunity to hit the reset button because a lot of these guys are not thinking straight anyway (because) they are using drugs. It gives them a chance to come in and think about their lives.”

Weber says the task force should find out the amount of next year’s state grant in June.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.