Funding Fight Against Drugs

Drug pushers seldom have to worry about funding their operations. Because they often are dealing with people addicted to opioids, their product sells itself.

It is a different story with law enforcement agencies out to break the grip illegal drugs have on so many in East Ohio and the Northern Panhandle. Often, the reward for being good at their jobs is leads that cost money to pursue.

Belmont County commissioners provided $50,000 to the county Drug Task Force last year, and have appropriated the same amount for 2018. Unfortunately, however, the task force went through most of last year’s funding during the first six months of the year.

East Ohio police and sheriff’s departments were quite active last year, according to task force Co-Commander John McFarland, who also serves as Martins Ferry’s chief of police. But most of their county anti-drug funding was used up by last June, forcing a decrease in activities such as raids, he added.

“When someone calls in about a suspected drug dealer next door, I don’t like calls going unanswered,” McFarland told a reporter.

Even as the substance abuse problem has built up to crisis level, county commissioners’ funding has remained stable, at about the same $50,000 during each of the past seven or eight years.

Task force officials have a new allotment of money for the current 12 months, but they know it may not last the full year. Every drug pusher they put out of action is replaced speedily by another one.

Commissioners should consider adding to the amount the provide the task force. Surely the county budget can stand a few more dollars to battle substance abuse.