The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 21, 2013

Our View: Funds for drug task forces

The Joplin Globe

— There’s no debating that Southwest Missouri, Northeast Oklahoma and Southeast Kansas all have drug problems.

Interstate 44, while great for transportation, is also a drug pipeline. Add to that methamphetamine operations and the ever-growing black market for prescription pain medication, and we see a greater need than ever for operations that work to stem the source of the operations.

One such operation is the Jasper County Drug Task Force. It works narcotics cases throughout the county, according to Carl Francis, Webb City police chief and a longtime task force board member.

“It allows us to work the entire county without worrying about jurisdictional boundaries. That also puts us with the state and federal systems. We have a DEA agent who has an office with the task force, and that allows us to expand our region even more. The recent federal K-2 indictments were the result of that,” Francis said.

He said the biggest benefit of the drug task force is that so many cases are intertwined, and officers can take the time to work their way to the source.

“Our goal is not the individual cases; it is to go after the source of manufacturing and supply and getting the drugs off the street.”

Currently, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and the Joplin and Webb City police departments are task force members.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says he wants to increase funding for drug task forces in Missouri.

The governor’s budget plan would provide $3 million for drug task forces — a move he says is necessary because of a planned cut in federal spending.

While we understand that cuts have to be made, we also know the devastating effect drugs have had on this area. Poverty, child abuse, crime and domestic violence are just a few of the social and economic ills the drug culture brings with it.

We would urge our legislators to examine the needs of drug task forces to make sure they have the funding to continue their investigations.