Warren County to receive $500K from state for drug task force building

The Warren County Drug Task Force’s budget crunch may be over.

The state capital budget includes $500,000 for a new building for the organization, funded through a combination of state and federal grants, local funding, in-kind contributions and forfeiture proceeds.

Last fall, Sheriff Larrry Sims emerged from budget discussions with the commissioners on ways to prop up funding for the task force with plans to provide it a permanent home.

RELATED: Drug agents in budget crunch as high-dollar busts dwindle

“As we see forfeitures go down and the drug industry change, budgets become tight,” Chief Deputy Barry Riley said after the funding was announced Friday.

The task force staff has grown to 21 agents and support staff, including officers from the sheriff’s office, police officers from Springboro, Franklin, Lebanon and Wilmington, FBI, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, Ohio State Patrol and Ohio National Guard, Counterdrug Unit, according to its latest annual report.

RELATED: 5 arrested, 7 search warrants served in regional drug case

“Our investigations target all levels of drug trafficking with an emphasis on felony crimes, from the lowest level felonies to long term federal conspiracy cases,” according to the report.

Plans call for the state funds and a contribution from the county commissioners to be used in developing the building - like leased locations task-force agents have inhabited over the past two decades - at an undisclosed location.

Riley tipped his hat to Senator Steve Wilson, R-Hamilton Twp., and Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin.

“They were able get that pushed through. We appreciate their support,” Riley said.

Plans called for $1 million to pay for land and construction, with the commissioners committed to cover 25 percent of the cost, Riley said.

MORE: Call about unconscious woman leads to drug charges

“I personally thought it was a very strong project,” Wilson said, adding the project also was highly rated by a county committee reviewing projects to submit for capital funding.

Wilson said new building should help with drug prevention and efforts to overcome an opioid crisis in southwest Ohio.

“This is on the side of prevention in that it is drug interdiction. It is trying to keep drugs off the street. I see it as a very positive project to fight one of the biggest problems in our state,” Wilson said.

RELATED: $24 million for Butler County in capital budget

According to a press release from Wilson’s office, Warren, Hamilton and Butler counties received a combined total of approximately $24.5 million, also including:

Mason Common Ground Park: $400,000 in funding was provided to build an all-inclusive playground for children and adults with disabilities, providing them an opportunity to interact and thrive in an environment that embraces their capabilities.

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