Monday, December 06, 2004

Local Officials Miss Boat on Byrne Funding

Byrne-grant funded drug task forces in Texas suffered another blow last week when Governor Perry shifted more than $1.2 million from task forces to drug treatment and other criminal justice programs. After several Byrne-grant funded drug task forces went under this year, Governor Perry last week redistributed the extant money freed up by their demise.

Most prominently, this summer Lubbock pulled out of the South Plains Narcotics Task Force as the lead agency. Unconfirmed rumors from
Grits sources had it that counties that were formerly part of the task force refused to request money for drug treatment or other non-task force programs, instead hoping to create three new task forces to replace the single large one Lubbock PD had operated.

They got their come-uppance last week. Governer Perry responded by simply de-funding the area entirely. None of the new grants were made in the region once covered by the Lubbock task force.

Ouch! Maybe those counties will get smart in January and ask for money to fund programs in their probation departments.

No money went to Denton or Collin Counties, either, whose task force also folded this year. Nor were counties in the Panhandle funded. They lost access to Byrne grant funding after the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Task Force was abolished as part of the Tulia settlement.

Those local governments are missing a real opportunity. Just because they don't have regional narcotics task forces anymore doesn't mean they're not eligible for Byrne grant funding. In fact, they can ask for money to pay for drug courts, forensic equipment, treatment facilities, probation services, youth programs, and many other things that they really need.

Perry did re-up funding for the Laredo Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force on the border, which was in jeopardy after the City of Laredo pulled out as the lead agency. Perry chose to restore the task force's $961,381 Byrne grant, making the Webb County Sheriff's Office the new lead agency.

Most of the freed up money went to Dallas, Houston and Waco. In Dallas, Byrne money will pay to upgrade its non-functioning offender information system. Harris County (Houston) gets about $900,000 to pay for drug treatment programs, and around Waco, McLennan, Bell and Coryell Counties will see money for new first-responder communications equipment.

Thanks to
Ann for forwarding Perry's press release.


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