City Poised to Sign New Task Force Agreement - The Missourian: Union

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City Poised to Sign New Task Force Agreement

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Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 1:32 pm

The city of Union will likely enter into a new agreement with a multi-jurisdictional task force to better consolidate resources.

According to Police Chief Norman Brune, there is a need to join the Multi-County Narcotics and Violent Crime Enforcement Unit due to state and federal funding cuts.

“We will share the cost on rent on buildings, share vehicles and phones,” Brune told the parks, building, development and public service committee Monday.

Although the city already is a member of the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit (FCNEU), a new “memorandum of understanding” must be approved now that a consolidated organization will merge with Lincoln and Reynolds counties.

Several municipal police departments also will join the task force, including Elsberry, Troy, Winfield and Moscow Mills.

“The idea is to get enough people to sign on to make it attractive to the state in order to get funding,” Brune said.

The city pays $7,000 to be part of the FCNEU, which won’t change under the newly consolidated unit.

According to Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit commander, this new task force is a part of a larger movement to ensure every county and municipality is in a task force.

“The goal will always be to service the entire state,” he said. “We hope to see more organizations come into this task force.”

Member units will be able to share electronic equipment and other law enforcement resources.

Consolidating the task forces also will reduce expenses for such things as insurance coverage and cellphones by having the ability to enter into a single, rather than multiple contracts.

Goals

Grellner explained that in Franklin County there will not be a change to narcotics enforcement, nor the name of the local unit, however crossing jurisdictional lines will allow for officers to better fight crime.

“Those in narcotics trafficking have no boundaries,” he said. “By working with boundaries, we’re fencing ourselves in.”

A key element to the merging will be to share manpower during undercover operations.

Grellner explained that his officers are known in the community, as well as drug circles, so they can’t go undercover here. Officers from other areas are able to go undercover, and Franklin County officers can do the same in other areas.

Additional manpower also will be beneficial during large roundups, he added.

According to Grellner, the FCNEU already has assisted on cases in Lincoln and Reynolds counties, including a meth lab fire that killed two children in Reynolds County in 2012.

Neither of those counties had been covered by a task force, he added.

Big Picture

There’s a larger move underway to consolidate the state’s 27 task forces in light of cuts in federal funding for such units throughout the United States.

Since 2010, federal funding to task forces from the U.S. Department of Justice has been cut by 40 percent, Grellner said.

He noted that the merger between Franklin, Lincoln and Reynolds counties is moving forward now to coincide with state and federal grant applications.

Plans are still under way to include more entities for a larger task force, as well as stronger agreement between existing units.

Mergers with the Mineral Area Drug Task Force, which covers Crawford County, and the East Central Drug Task Force, which covers Warren County, are on the horizon, he said.

Consolidating these task forces in eastern Missouri will increase efficiency and reduce costs, according to the county’s chief narcotics investigator.

The plan, when completed, will unite nine counties under one task force, he explained. In addition to Franklin, Reynolds and Lincoln counties, the new task force would cover the counties of Washington, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Iron, Madison and Jefferson.

The partnership will be run by the Franklin County unit, he explained.

The Franklin County task force was established in 2005. An earlier county task force organized in the 1990s was later disbanded.

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