Reported proposed cuts to federal program could hurt Harrison County

The White House is reportedly considering making a 94% cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. That would include the elimination of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, which is vital to Harrison County.

The HIDTA program coordinates federal, state, and local agencies in the fight against drug trafficking. Harrison County received its designation two years ago. The elimination of the program would presumably mean the county loses out on federal funds.

“What it would mean is that would just be one more tool out of tool-box that we don’t have anymore,” said Ron Watson, Harrison County commissioner.

And it’s a tool police don’t want to lose. As Sheriff Robert Matheny put it, HIDTA helps keep boots on the ground.

“We rely on a nice chunk of our budget for the drug officers out of HIDTA,” Matheny explained. “Our equipment and training–we enjoy a nice chunk of funding for that.”

And in the face of a growing drug epidemic, many of you think eliminating the program would be a step backward.

“I don’t think they ought to remove it,” Marion Russell opined. “I think they ought to improve it.”

“If [President Trump] eliminates it, he’s definitely wrong for doing it,” Eric Jones said. “Taking that federal money like that, it’s going to hurt.”

Jones worries about his own kids growing up in a county where heroin and opiates pour in from outside the state.

“It can get in the schools, and it’s very important they do something to keep it off the streets and out of the schools,” Jones urged.

If the program is cut, Sheriff Matheny says the county will have to make due.

“If we’re not funded through the HIDTA money for overtime, then we would have to fund that out of our regular overtime budget, which would definitely be a hardship on the Sheriff’s Office and the county,” Matheny said.

In the video above, Matheny explains how HIDTA resources are provided to the county.