Moffat County likely will contribute $4,860 to keep a drug task force alive. The city of Craig definitely will.
Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead on Tuesday requested that the commissioners commit to funding the Grand Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team for at least one more year.
The request was a reverse from just two weeks ago, when Grinstead said he didn’t think the county was getting the “bang for its buck” for its participation in GRAMNET. He indicated that the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and the Craig Police Department likely would drop out of the team, as Grand County already has.
But the Craig Police Department is firm in its commitment.
The Craig City Council voted Tuesday night to approve the 2005 budget, which includes a reduction in the amount GRAMNET will contribute to a Craig police officer/ GRAMNET officer salary. In the past, the city has paid the full salary of an officer who worked with GRAMNET for the Craig Police Department.
GRAMNET has reimbursed the department for 50 percent of that salary. State budget cuts have affected GRAMNET, allowing them to reimburse only 25 percent of that officer’s salary.
On Tuesday, Grinstead said it was worth the county’s money to participate for at least one more year. His office is participating in what he described as a large drug investigation that would not be possible if the office did not have the state and federal contacts GRAMNET provides, Grinstead said.
In light of the highly publicized methamphetamine problems in Craig, the commissioners said they thought they had to help fund GRAMNET.
“In all honesty, I don’t know how we can’t support this,” Commissioner Les Hampton said. “I think we’d be doing a disservice to our community if we said we didn’t have $4,860.”
“I think I have to agree with that,” Commissioner Darryl Steele said.
“We (the community) have a drug problem. If we cut this and put less law enforcement on the street, it would not be good.”
GRAMNET makes about one drug bust a week, Grinstead said. Many of those are for methamphetamine possession.
But the drug task force team needs to “move up the ladder” and bust more dealers and manufacturers, he said.
However, he said he thinks not many meth labs are in Craig.
GRAMNET funded itself until several years ago, when the state Legislature changed seizure laws. At one time, if law enforcement officers could prove that drug dealers used their vehicles or cars to sell drugs, they could seize and sell the vehicle or house and use the profits to fund their operations.
“It really was great when we got homes seized in Steamboat,” Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said.
Since the law changed, GRAMNET has struggled for funding, and the responsibility is falling on local government.
When the GRAMNET board decided to try to continue for one year, each of the four participating agencies agreed to contribute $9,720.
The remainder of Moffat County’s contribution should come from federal grants, Grinstead said.
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Next week, Colorado Northwestern Community College and Moffat County are hosting a free day-long seminar for local ranchers and agriculture producers.