During a press conference in early March, the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy mentioned an interesting, albeit dubious, factoid about Iowa’s war on drugs — the amount of illegal drugs confiscated by the state’s drug task forces in the 2006-07 fiscal year would be enough to keep every Iowan high for at least 36 hours. I am curious about the methodology used to calculate this. But, still, interesting.

In all, the 19 regional and two statewide task forces that use Byrne-JAG grant funding ended up seizing 41.5 kilos of cocaine, 3,146 pounds of marijuana and 61 kilos of methamphetamine, just to mention a few mind-boggling numbers. And in one year! To make a comparison, put it all together and you’ve got about the weight of a Ford F250 pickup truck. The drugs seized by the task force in Davenport alone had a street value of nearly $7 million.

Eastern Iowa’s task forces have done some very impressive work that I didn’t have enough room to mention in the paper. Even though the Byrne-JAG grant pays for only a portion of most of the drug task forces salaries and equipment, with reduced — and possibly eliminated — funding from it, they might be in trouble. Everyone I talked to with the groups said there was likely no way cities and states could keep them going in the same way they do now. Education elements would be the first to suffer, so training for private companies and school programs would be cut. Fewer investigators means less gets done.

Crimes such as burglaries, robberies and assaults have been directly linked to drug use. So when drug use goes down, so do they. The drug task forces play an important part in keeping us safe by investigating large-scale drug distribution and catching many people who come into the state with drug deliveries. So lend them your support!

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