Governor Robert Bentley has announced that two law enforcement grants have been awarded by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to the Cherokee County Major Crimes Unit and the DeKalb County Drug Task Force.
According to District Attorney Mike O’Dell, the awards, totaling $50,000 to each agency, are a testament to the hard work and exceptional professionalism demonstrated by the law enforcement officials in both Units. Competition for the grants was intense among state drug task forces and major crime units, and the Ninth Judicial Circuit is the only circuit in the state to receive multiple grants. Heads of both agencies had to meet with ADECA officials and demonstrate the ‘worthiness’ of their respective Units.
O’Dell says, “It is especially gratifying that the newly created Cherokee County Major Crimes Unit was able to convince ADECA officials to help underwrite their major crimes investigative work and I am extremely proud and pleased that both Units have been honored with these grants. I want to personally thank several individuals for their efforts in obtaining these grants, including Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver, State Representative Richard Lindsey, Leesburg Police Chief Lanny Ransum, Major Crimes Unit Commander Josh Summerford. These individuals, and myself, made several trips to Montgomery to meet with ADECA officials. We were privileged to discuss and promote our Major Crimes Units with ADECA Director Jim Byard along with Brian Forster and Bill Babbington, also of ADECA. These were in-depth discussions concerning personnel, goals, policies and procedures, and Josh Summerford presented a compelling picture for the ADECA officials to consider. The same can be said of the discussions that were held between Brian Forster and John Rogers of ADECA, Chief Deputy Michael Edmondson of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, who also serves as the DeKalb County Drug Task Force Commander, and my office, when Forster and Rogers traveled to Centre and Fort Payne for follow-up assessment meetings concerning our Units.”
The funds will be used to further the goals and work of local law enforcement in fighting drugs and in investigating major crimes in each county. Without these funds it would be very difficult to carry out the mission of each Unit. The Cherokee County grant will be used for professional development and training, forensic equipment, and vehicles to be assigned to investigators of both Centre and Leesburg Police Departments.
Due to budget cuts to various law enforcement agencies across the state, O’Dell says, “we find ourselves more and more isolated and on own our with respect to drug enforcement and major crimes investigation. These monies, along with the contract that both counties have with Mark Hopwood and the Jacksonville State University Center for Applied Forensics, will enable the Units to continue to provide the crucial law enforcement services so desperately needed in our circuit. I applaud Commanders Summerford and Edmondson for their outstanding leadership, and the various officers who comprise these two Units. I don’t believe these investigative services and drug enforcement have ever been in better hands.”