County drug unit receives federal grant

An influx of national funds will aid a countywide narcotics unit in more effectively combating area drug offenders, the unit’s commander said Monday afternoon.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley announced Monday the state’s department of Economic and Community Affairs had awarded the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force with a $475,000 grant.

The grant, composed of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, is a “big increase” compared to last year’s grant, explained Lt. Cody Sumners, commander of the task force.

“We actually get this grant every year, but we got a lot more than we expected this year,” Sumners said. “Last year, I think we got $140,000.”

The task force is composed of officers from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabaster, Pelham, Helena and Harpersville police departments. Since its 2004 creation, the task force has worked to combat drug trafficking, manufacturing and narcotics-related crimes throughout the county, Sumners said.

“We will use the grant to pay the salaries for the task force investigators, and other general operating expenses,” Sumners said. “The big increase is going to help us fund some things we may not have been able to do in the past.”

As the task force is composed of officers from law enforcement agencies across the county, team members are able to arrest drug offenders anywhere in Shelby County.

“Violent crime and illegal drugs go hand-in-hand,” Riley wrote in a press release. “I am pleased to support the efforts of this task force to apprehend criminals and protect the safety of residents.”