An agreement to continue the county's multi-agency undercover drug strike force was approved and then rescinded Wednesday by the Davis County Commission, still concerned about how money and other seized assets will be divided.
The tabling of the interlocal agreement puts a $90,000 federal grant to fund the Davis Metro Narcotics Strike Force in jeopardy, Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson warned the commission.The agreement governing the strike force's operation has to be approved by the county and the cities that donate manpower to the force by Nov. 1, Wilson said.
That leaves less than a week for the commission's requested changes to be forwarded to the participating cities for approval, Wilson said, a deadline he warned may not be met.
The drug-fighting pact was first presented to the cities in September at the monthly Davis Council of Governments (COG) meeting. Mayors and city officials there rejected it, saying the agreement did not provide enough oversight on the undercover operation.
The mayors also questioned a proposal that cash and other assets such as cars, guns and homes seized from drug dealers be turned over to the strike force to fund its continuing operation.
The county Sheriff's Department and four cities - Bountiful, Clearfield, Layton and Kaysville - contribute manpower to the strike force. The other participating cities are assessed a monetary contribution, based on a population formula.
The mayors told the county attorney's office that the agreement as proposed in September was not acceptable because it left participating city officials legally responsible for the strike force's actions but with little input or oversight.
The strike force's governing board is composed of the county sheriff, police chiefs from participating cities, and a representative from the county attorney's office.
The mayors also said they don't like the idea of the strike force seizing cash, cars and homes that could be added to its operating budget. They suggested seizures over a stated amount be divided, with some proceeds going back to the cities that financially support the multi-agency strike force.
Deputy County Attorney Bill McGuire, who drew up the proposed agreement and negotiated the changes requested by the cities, told the commission Wednesday that the four cities donating officers to the strike force have approved the new agreement.
The commission, representing the sheriff's office, also has to approve it before it can be submitted to the federal government to ensure the strike force's grant.
After first approving the contract, the commissioners re-read the paragraph covering seized assets and decided it was unacceptable.
Commissioner Robert Rose said he's opposed to the Sheriff's Department participating in the strike force at all because it puts the county in the business of buying and selling drugs.
Citing the federal government's current budget problems, Rose said he's also philosophically and politically opposed to the use of federal grants. Local problems should be solved with local resources, Rose said.
Commissioner Dub Lawrence, a former county sheriff, said the strike force was disbanded at one point during his term in the 1970s and drug arrests by local police agencies actually increased.
But the situation is different now, Lawrence said, and he supports the strike force's operation. But he said he is opposed to the wording in the agreement governing the distribution of seized assets.
Commission chairman Gayle Stevenson said he never considered the county not participating. Drugs are a serious problem in the county, Stevenson said.
The proposed agreement puts a $300,000 cap on the amount of seizures that can be used by the strike force.
The commissioners also want an auditing and accounting system set up through the county auditor's office to track cash used by undercover agents in drug sting operations.