Congress' decision to curtail some federal grants to state drug-fighting programs won't affect Utah too much, even though officials in other states say their programs will suffer, authorities say.
"We didn't receive quite as many funds last year as we have in the past, but we anticipate funding to continue or even increase," said Gary Whitney, spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety.Whitney said Utah has regularly led the way in a variety of law enforcement programs and said the state is often selected to get additional federal grants because of that role. Recent laws have also helped the state supplement its drug enforcement budgets through drug money seizures.
"We've been getting money for these cocaine drug transaction deals," he said. "That's taking some of the slack."
Laura Lewis, narcotics program specialist for the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which distributes federal drug grants, said Utah received $1,521,000 in federal grants in the first year, fiscal 1987. Funding dropped to $688,000 in fiscal 1988, but for fiscal 1989 the funding will increase and the state will receive $1,124,000.
"What we can't really do is expand (drug enforcement programs and equipment), but we can maintain," she said. There are many good programs that will not be funded, but drug enforcement in Utah in the immediate future should not be affected too much, she said.
Steve Lough, agent in charge of the Salt Lake office of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, said Utah is in good shape as far as money to fight the drug battle.
"Here in Utah, there's been millions and millions of dollars given in (federal) grants," he said. "In other states, the money's been wasted in a lot of ways."
Many state drug officials around the country say the federal government is turning its back on promises to fight the war on drugs. But Lough said that three years ago when the grants were given to state agencies, they were told it wasn't likely they would get such grants every year.
"When it runs out, that's when they complain," he said.
Salt Lake Police Sgt. Scott Atkinson, who works in the narcotics division, said his department could always use more money, but it is not suffering from cutbacks in their department.
"I'm sure it will affect us down the road," he said, but added that during the months he has been in the department, the narcotics division has had all the money it has needed.
"We have plenty of money. We just don't have enough manpower," he said.