POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - The federal government recently announced funding for drug task force programs will be cut. In Missouri, that means the budget will go from $6.2 million last year to $3.2 million this year.
"I think we would lose a lot if we lost the task force," Mark McClendon, who is charge of the southeast Missouri drug task force, said. "They put their lives in danger every day."
"We couldn't handle the drug problem in Poplar Bluff, Butler County, or southeast Missouri by ourselves," Chief Danny Whiteley of the Poplar Bluff Police Department said. "If we don't have the numbers that involved in the joint task forces, we would just be dead in the water."
According to Chief Whiteley, that is exactly what was going to happen. But good news for Whiteley and the other law enforcement leaders in the 10 other counties, the governor doesn't plan on letting it happen.
"That may make sense up in Washington but we are going to figure out what to do here," Governor Jay Nixon said.
In his budget, Governor Nixon proposed the state pick up the difference. This means the money for these task forces won't see any change.
"380 arrests, 800 cases worked, 120 meth labs busted and cleaned up..that's efficient use of taxpayer resources folks," Governor Nixon said.
"Well it's very good to know that they governor feels it's a priority in his budget that he would put the funds in the budget for us," McClendon said.
Thirty-two area law enforcement agencies participate in the SEMO Drug Task Force. It's this cooperation that leaders point to for its success.
"But when it comes to drug investigations, you are focused on one result and that's normally what comes from working together," Whiteley said.
"As far as the law enforcement arm of fighting drugs in the state of Missouri, there is nothing more important than drug task forces," Governor Nixon said. "They take on the problem where it starts."
The Southeast Missouri Drug Task force is one of 27 drug task forces in the state of Missouri.
Governor Nixon's budget still needs to be approved.