Grants help enhance local public safety
The drug war may not be totally winnable. But it is a war worth
fighting, to discourage the bad guys, protect the public safety from
petty and major crime, and send a clear message to youth that drug use
and abuse comes with a very high pricetag.
The Union County’s Sheriff’s Department got a boost in the battle against drugs and their insidious damage to local families and individuals with several recent grants. One of the biggest is a $309,000 two-year Recovery Act Rural Law Enforcement Assistance Grant from the federal government. The grant will help the department beef up its drug task force known as MERIT, or Multi-Agency Enforcement Response Interdiction Team, as it battles drug crime in the region. The two-year grant will allow the drug team to add two new members, one in Union County and one in Wallowa County. That is a significant boost to taking a bite out of drug crime locally.
Another recent grant is helping the sheriff’s department upgrade
fingerprinting equipment. Union County was one of the last counties in Oregon to get the upgrade, and it is long overdue. The new system cuts down on wait time dramatically over the old “ink and roll” way and will make law enforcement locally more effective and efficient.
A smaller grant divided between the sheriff’s office and the La Grande Police Department will also help battle crime. That grant will help buy video microphones that will allow deputies to tape crime scenes, traffic stops and other enforcement activities at the touch of a button. The video microphones should contribute to more effective prosecution of crimes.
Another grant renewal brought almost $350,000 into the Union County Assistance Program. That program targets domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The grant will help maintain current
services as well as expand outreach and educational services in these vital areas.
Much credit for getting these grants goes to Cathie Falck, a sheriff’s office administrative assistant. In these difficult economic times, grant funding becomes all the more important in filling gaps in budgets. Falck wrote the Rural Law Enforcement Assistance Grant, worked with the OSP to bring the digital fingerprint unit to the jail and assisted with the police department’s Edward Bryne grant. Her work in grant writing and coordination of grant funding has gone a long way toward making local law enforcement a stronger force in ensuring
Grants will continue to play an important role in effective law enforcement in the future. It’s good to see the sheriff’s department tapping into this vital resource to help keep the public safe and secure.