Task Force gets funds to fight drugs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

A federal Byrne Grant, through The Alabama Economic Development Corporation (AEDACo), was awarded to the Dallas County Commission to fight illegal drugs and violent crime in five west-central Alabama counties.

The commission will use the funds for the operation of the Fourth Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force that serves Dallas, Bibb, Perry, Hale and Wilcox counties.

Andrew Arrington appeared before the Selma City Council Monday to request $15,000 toward a matching grant from Gov. Bob Riley.

In November, Riley’s office notified Dallas County Commission Chairman John W. Jones that the matching grant had been approved – $143,000.

District Attorney Michael Jackson’s office, has until the end of the week to generate the remainder of a matching $143,000.

“We’ve gotten funding from Perry County, Wilcox County, Marion and Dallas counties, and other cities,” said Arrington.

City Councilman Cecil Williamson asked the Council to “commit $15,000 out of unappropriated funds.”

Councilwoman Jean Martin seconded the motion, noting, “I don’t think we can afford not to do this.”

Arrington told President George Evans that the “vast majority is being paid by Mr. Jackson out of their office.”

Evans commended the county, the city and the D.A.’s office for “keeping us safe from drug trafficking.”

The motion for a city commitment to the $15,000 matching grant was approved by a unanimous vote.

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw praised Arrington and the Drug Task Force’s efforts. “You’ve done it in Ward 7. It’s gotten a lot better there.”

Councilman Johnnie Leashore asked Arrington to help eradicate the drug dealers in Ward 6.

“We’ve got people calling and begging for help,” Leashore said.

Arrington said mechanisms are in place. “There’s a state law,” he said. “If there is a drug house, we can process in those areas. If there is a street or corner, call us and let us know.”

St. Phillip, St. Ann, Minter, Lapsley and L.L. Anderson streets in Selma were cited as being problem areas.

“St. Phillip, St. Ann. These areas have been an open air drug market for a number of years,” Leashore said. “There’ve been some attempts to clean it up.

Some police attempts and narcotic agent attempts. Chief (Jimmy) Martin said they were working on it.”

Riley said that “by aggressively pursuing and prosecuting drug dealers, we reduce drug-related violence and crime and protect the health and safety of our communities.

“I commend the work of the task force and I am pleased to provide these funds,” Riley said.

Area law enforcement agencies work hand-in-hand as members of the multi-jurisdictional force to increase effectiveness in detecting illegal drugs and arresting offenders. The agencies also work closely with state and federal agencies to identify, disrupt and eliminate the drug trade in the area.

“We need to get the problem out of Ward 6 and out of Selma entirely,” Leashore said.

At present, one outpatient center in Selma deals with drug addiction and substance addiction. Cahaba Cares, located at 912 Jeff Davis Ave., works with people suffering from alcoholism and drug abuse.