McGrath: Cuts in Federal Funding Leave Drug Enforcement in Doubt
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath said Monday that congressional changes to federal law-enforcement grant programs seriously threaten the state’s battle against methamphetamine.
In a press conference at the Montana Capitol, McGrath said a federal shift toward direct grants to local law enforcement agencies endangers the state’s multi-agency drug task forces.
“None of us needs to look very far to know that Montana has a serious methamphetamine problem,” McGrath said, “and no one agency can fight it alone. These changes will radically alter the way Montana funds its drug task forces.”
For the past several years Montana has funded seven multi-jurisdictional drug task forces and one statewide drug task force with federal dollars. The grants were awarded to local and state law enforcement agencies by the Montana Board of Crime Control, and last year, the Board awarded $2.1 million for Montana drug enforcement purposes.
Following congressional action late last year, the Board of Crime Control expects to have about $1.37 million available to award in the state fiscal year that begins July 1, 2005. That’s about 57 percent of the $2.4 million that was available last year. At a meeting Jan. 6, the Board voted to seek state funding to make up for the loss in available money.
“The current state grants expire about 5½ months from now, and those drug task forces are facing extinction,” he said.