Sen. Salazar fighting meth

Federal appropriations bill awaiting approval

Routt and Moffat counties are poised to gain an additional $100,000 to fight the methamphetamine scourge in Northwest Colorado, pending final approval of a federal appropriations bill.

The funds stem from the $56.6 billion Commerce, Justice and Science Department Appropriations bill, which was approved late Tuesday night by the U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives previously approved its version of the bill, which will now proceed to conference committee.

Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) pushed for inclusions in the bill to combat meth use in Northwest Colorado, including $100,000 for the Hayden-based All Crimes Enforcement Team, formerly known as the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Meth has become "the drug of choice across the West," Salazar said in a conference call Wednesday.

"It's definitely a growing problem," said Garrett Wiggins, task force commander for ACET. "We're dealing with meth incidents in both Routt and Moffat counties."

The majority of the current meth problems in the area are consumption and trafficking. Most of the meth found in Northwest Colorado comes from Mexico, Wiggins said, though he believes there could be meth labs in the area.

ACET has had a turbulent year with the Routt County Sheriff's Office withdrawing from the task force in February and the unit cutting its budget by 34 percent.

Wiggins said the additional funds allocated in the appropriations bill would be a great aid to the task force's abilities.

Salazar also supported appropriating $550 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services grant program, and $110 million for the Universal Hiring Program, which provides funds for law enforcement branches to hire additional officers.

The Universal Hiring Program has put 100,000 law enforcement officers on the streets across the country, including 628 in Colorado in the past decade. Salazar credited it as being partially responsible for crime drop-offs in the 1990s and early 2000s.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

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