Fighting The Drug War in Fayette County 

Fighting The Drug War in Fayette County 
Posted by FoM on February 12, 2000 at 19:59:09 PT
By Gretchen M. Kline, Courier Staff Writer
Source: Daily Courier
Fayette County's battle against drugs took an important step Friday - the establishment of the county's drug task force.At a press conference at Penn State, Fayette Campus, state Attorney General Mike Fisher, Fayette County District Attorney Nancy Vernon and chiefs of police from participating municipalities Friday formally established the Fayette County Drug Task Force, making it eligible to receive financial assistance and equipment from the attorney general's office.
As the state's chief law enforcement officer, Fisher said this task force will be supervised by his and Vernon's office.The county task force will have a $64,000 budget for the upcoming fiscal year and may be eligible for more than $20,000 this fiscal year depending on when it is operational.Vernon said the task force "is up and running" as of Friday.Under former District Attorney Peter Hook, the county had a district attorney-supervised task force which disbanded.As Fisher signed agreements with each participating municipality, its chief of police stepped forward."This new task force will give District Attorney Vernon and Fayette County police departments the tools they need to wage an aggressive battle against drugs in their communities," said Fisher. "In many Pennsylvania counties, the Attorney General's municipal drug task force is the primary weapon against drug trafficking." The county's force is one of 15 attorney general-controlled task forces operating in 30 counties. In this task force, a board comprised of chiefs of police, the district attorney and an attorney general drug agent sets task force priorities and assigns task force officers.Fisher said the force allows police officers to work undercover in municipalities other than their own. The force will be supervised by Joe Kletch, assistant deputy chief for the state's western district."Through this cooperative task force, Fayette County can now do undercover work and do it effectively," stated Fisher, adding that the district attorney's office will have resources for major investigations of the drug enforcement act. Through Fisher's office, the force will receive money for: Investigative costs such as "buy money" for drugs, informant payments and overtime costs, equipment such as electronic surveillance and communications equipment and training from the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI). Additionally, through Act 100 legislation, the state assumes liability for injury and workmen's compensation claims that arise from task force investigations.Fisher said any money seized through task force investigations should go to the district attorney's office if the county plays a significant role and to the BNI for further investigations.Vernon said the county's forces and municipal officers are joining a team to combat the number one crime problem in the county, the illegal trafficking and sale of drugs. Vernon said the county's drug problem has resulted in other crimes.Municipalities participating are the cities of Connellsville and Uniontown; boroughs of Dunbar, Everson, Fairchance Masontown, Perryopolis and South Connellsville and German, Luzerne and Redstone townships.Fisher said the agreement with his office and Fayette County will remain in effect as long as it is wanted. Vernon said she is hopeful other municipalities will join the task force which has no cost to the municipality.Connellsville City Chief of Police James J. Bielecki said his department has been anticipating the start of the task force since last fall and is looking forward to working with the district attorney's office.Bielecki said the financial assistance from the task force will allow his department, which has been conducting investigations in the city on a limited budget on its own and with agents from the attorney general's office and state police strike force, "to lift the restriction and start more and do more (investigations) than before. "UniontownPublished: February 12, 2000 2000 by The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.CannabisNews Articles on Drug Task Forces:
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