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LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — A funding crisis — that’s what the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office says their Drug Task Force program is headed towards.
They’re worried about how to fund the program and keep drugs off the streets.
Spokesperson Brett Hambright says right now they’re juggling two major drug issues in the county. Along with opioids, they believe methamphetamine is reaching the epidemic stage.
It takes $1.3 million to run the Drug Task Force program each year.
“Our funds are just too volatile, we don’t have a solid in place structure from year to year,” said Brett Hambright.
The program is paid for by municipality donations, funds from the Attorney General’s Office and the bulk of it from drug forfeitures.
But that money is running out.
“Dealers have told our personnel or informants that they’re moving from fentanyl because they realize it can bring a body for them and a lengthy prison sentence, moving over to cocaine methamphetamine.”
The DA’s office says they’ve made 30 arrests for methamphetamine versus the 28 for fentanyl and heroin this year.
Undercover officers have received more and more meth deliveries over the years: 16 in 2016, 20 in 2017 and this year 10.
“Once you remove one type of illicit substance you’re going to see another one spring up in its place. Initially what we saw was a down tick in opioid use we saw an uptick in cocaine use or marijuana,” said Chief Matthew Baily with Susquehanna Township EMS in Dauphin County.
He’s worried about new drug cocktails.
“Something new hits the street and we’re not aware of what it is so we kinda have to learn in the fly, which is never a great system.”
New funding was requested by the County this past October by DA Craig Stedman.
16 officers are stretched across the entire county as part of the force.
“The task force has predicted and epidemic event coming with methamphetamine and we’re not that far off from that with the combination with the heroin and opiate climate it could be devastating if we don’t have that enforcement arm that’s necessary.”
The DA’s office is looking into grants and have the funds to cover this year, but they’re worried about 2020.