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Drug, Gang Task Force Coordinator Asks BOARD To Reconsider Cuts

Special Agent Mark T. Campbell, coordinator of the Halifax/South Boston Regional Narcotics and Gang Task Force, voiced his concerns yesterday that proposed budget cuts to the commonwealth’s attorney’s office and sheriff’s office will be detrimental to the successful prosecution of future cases brought by the regional task force. County supervisors serving on the finance committee have proposed reducing the commonwealth’s attorney’s office FY 2011 budget by $80,000 and the sheriff’s office budget by $215,292 over their current budgets.

Campbell provided the following statistics covering the volume of work his office has relied on both the sheriff’s and prosecutor’s offices to assist with between Jan. 3 and May 15 of this year.

• 228 currently active cases

These cases are open pending trial, pleas, disposition of evidence, assets and sentencing, he said.

• 74 new cases opened

These are in addition to active cases, according to Campbell.

• 53 cases closed 

These have reached a logical conclusion and are closed because of arrest and disposition of evidence, he explained.

• 115 felony arrests

•  two misdemeanor arrests

•  nine search warrants

“The above statistics are just a small part of what is handled on a daily basis by the county sheriff’s office and the office of the commonwealth’s attorney,” Campbell said.

“Manpower is needed by the task force to assist us on a weekly basis to fulfill the mission assigned for the interdiction of, and prosecution of narcotic and gang activity in and around the county and in the towns of South Boston and Halifax.  This also includes the many communities as well,” he continued.

Campbell said any budget cuts to the commonwealth’s attorney’s office that jeopardizes the position of the regional drug prosecutor “will be detrimental to the successful prosecution of future cases brought by the regional task force.”

He urged the supervisors on the finance committee to reevaluate their budget considerations and asked them to answer the following questions:

• Are budget reductions for the sheriff’s office and commonwealth’s attorney’s office in the best interest of county citizens?

• What will be the outcome of such budget cuts? (loss of positions, increased response times, overloaded court dockets, some crimes not being prosecuted, etc.)

• Can we afford to have the regional drug prosecutor’s position cut?

• Can we afford to have police response hampered due to staff reductions?

“These are only a few of the questions that must be answered before a decision is made that will drastically affect the county and its citizens,” Campbell said. 

He continued asking the supervisors to imagine if they were a victim of a crime, and there was no one to investigate or prosecute the crime against them, or if an investigation had to be delayed due to the overload of cases due to a budget reduction.

“Serious thought should be given before a budget is voted on that reduces the funding for the sheriff’s office as well as the office of the commonwealth’s attorney,” Campbell concluded.