Ever since the 1930s, when the FBI issued the names and ranked the public enemies it was pursuing (precursor to the Most Wanted Fugitives List launched in 1949), public relations has been part of law enforcement, particularly so in tough economic times and tightened budgets.
In Narcotics task force funding slashed, we learn about a one-day enforcement effort aimed at highlighting the importance of federal Byrne Grants for funding drug task forces in Southeast Minnesota:
"A national narcotics task force grant cut by 67 percent this year led to a multi-state blitz Wednesday aimed at showcasing the vital role funding plays in concentrated drug enforcement efforts. “If we lost our funding or a significant portion it is going to make it hard to continue to do the work that we are going,” Austin Police Chief Paul Philipp said.
“Operation Byrne Blitz,” named for the affected federal grant, yielded 172 arrests, 57 search warrants, 3.5 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.5 pounds of cocaine, 23 pounds of marijuana, 43 guns, 12 vehicles and $39,618 in cash statewide, according to a press release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
The Southeast Minnesota Narcotics Task Force focused on Austin, executing four search warrants that resulted in pending charges for five individuals, Olmsted County Sheriff’s Captain Bill Reiland said. The amount of methamphetamine seized has a street value of $10,000, he said."
The Star Tribune reported that statewide the Operation Byrne Blitz drug sweep nets 172 arrests:
Law enforcement also encountered 20 endangered children during the operation and referred them to local authorities
“Operation Byrne Blitz illustrates the value of regional, consolidated drug enforcement efforts,” said Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion, who is a former narcotics agent. “Drug trafficking operations often cross traditional jurisdictional boundaries, and when agencies work together to devote resources to catching traffickers, that makes Minnesota safer.”
The Bryne grants were cut by Congress at the urging of the Bush administration, which wants to eliminate the programs entirely and shift the money from domestic police work to fighting terrorism. Congressman Walz is one of 91 co-sponsors of H.R. 5180, which would use emergency appropriations to restore the grant program, along with Minnesota Representatives Ellison, McCollum, and Ramstad.
The Austin Herald article noted the measure:
Bushman said U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, DFL-Iowa, has introduced legislation to boost funding by $490 million if a supplemental budget is passed this year.
“We are hoping some of the funding will be restored,” Philipp wrote in an e-mail. “Rep. Walz feels that it is still possible to restore some of the cuts.”
Philipp recently met with U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Minnesota, about the grant funding, which would likely dry up if the bill fails.