03.18.09

Leahy Secures $1 Million More For Vermont Drug Task Force

Task Force Method -- Used In The St. Albans Roundup -- Was Strongly Backed In Leahy's Hearings On Drug Crime In Rutland And St. Albans

(WEDNESDAY, March 18) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday announced that the Vermont Drug Task Force -- which arrested 16 people Tuesday in a drug sweep in St. Albans -- will receive $1 million in new federal grant funding through the Edward Byrne Discretionary Grant program.  Leahy secured the funding in the appropriations bill passed by the Congress signed into law last week by President Obama. 

The funding will allow the Task Force to increase efforts to combat the abuse, trafficking and violent crime associated with illegal drugs.  The trafficking and use of illegal drugs in Vermont is at an all-time high.  The Drug Task Force is a statewide initiative comprised of state, county, and local law enforcement officers focused on substance abuse prevention and treatment programs and anti-drug crime investigative work.  It is managed primarily by the Vermont Department of Public Safety.  Including these new funds, Leahy, as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, now has secured $8.25 million for the Task Force since 2000.   

"Since my days as a prosecutor I have believed that 'all hands on deck' is an effective approach to solving some of the most difficult crime problems," said Leahy.  "As we heard in the Judiciary Committee's hearings in Vermont, State Police Troop Commanders, County Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, as well as mayors, town managers and select boards, routinely call upon the Task Force to help with investigations and prosecutions of drug-related crimes in their communities.  This new infusion of funds is a timely boost in countering drug crime in Vermont, and the Task Force's operation in St. Albans is a timely reminder of how central this partnership approach is to these efforts." 

Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Twice last year he brought the panel to Vermont for hearings in Rutland and St. Albans where local, state, and federal officials joined law enforcement leaders, educators, experts in prevention and treatment and concerned parents to testify about the persistent problem of drug-related violent crime in rural communities.  Vermont's Commissioner of Public Safety, Tom Tremblay, and Rutland Chief of Police Anthony Bossi testified at the March 2007 hearing in Rutland.  St. Albans Chief of Police Gary Taylor testified at the hearing in St. Albans last December.  The hearings spotlighted the crucial role of the Vermont Drug Task Force in coordinating local, state and federal law enforcement resources in combating drug crime. 

Earlier this month Leahy announced that Vermont would receive nearly $5 million in additional federal grant funding through the Byrne Grant Program.  Leahy had led successful efforts in the Senate to include these and other anti-crime resources in the economic stimulus plan.  Grants awarded through the program allow state and local governments to support a range of programs to help prevent crime, and are used for law enforcement, prevention, education, drug treatment and crime victims programs, as well as for planning, training, evaluation and technology improvement programs. 

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