State News

Leahy secures $1.3 million for police heroin task force

Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy announced a grant of more than $1.3 million for the Vermont State Police to continue its aggressive work fighting the opioid epidemic in Vermont on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

This was the second-largest of only eight grants awarded nationwide through the COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force (AHTF) grant program that Leahy created in the fiscal year 2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill. In his new role as the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy fought to fund the program at $10 million in the fiscal year 2017 enacted CJS appropriations act, despite the Department of Justice proposing to eliminate the program.

VSP will use the $1.3 million award to continue funding the five troopers and one analyst hired with the first grant of more than $1.4 million that it received in 2015 through the AHTF grant program. Leahy also is a leading champion of this and other COPS programs on the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the program.

“I designed the Anti-Heroin Task Force grant program specifically with the Vermont State Police’s Drug Task Force in mind,” Leahy said. “The vital and highly successful investigative work that the Task Force does in Vermont is a key component of our fight against the scourge of addiction that touches communities and families across our state. The detectives and analysts dedicated to the anti-heroin task force, whose work is supported with these funds, work to get right at the heart of Vermont’s distribution networks, targeting those who profit from the misery of Vermonters and their families.”

President Trump’s budget for fiscal year 2018 proposed eliminated funding for the AHTF grant program. Despite the administration’s proposal, Leahy was able to ensure that the fiscal year 2018 Senate CJS appropriations bill includes $12 million in funding for the program, a $2 million increase over fiscal year 2017.

Vermont State Police Col. Matthew Birmingham said, “The funds from this award are an important part of our enforcement strategy focused on dismantling heroin trafficking networks in Vermont. We are grateful to Senator Leahy for his efforts to create and sustain this funding.”

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