Drug task force adds personnel

WILLISTON — U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., joined by Vermont State Police Commander Matthew Birmingham, on Monday announced that six new positions — including five detectives — have now been added to the Vermont Drug Task Force to strengthen heroin trafficking investigations in Vermont.
This expansion of the task force was made possible with a $1.4 million grant from the Department of Justice’s Anti-Heroin Task Force program that was awarded last September. The program, administered through DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), was created by Leahy as a result of Senate Judiciary Committee field hearings he held to examine heroin and opioid abuse in Vermont.
The program targets areas with high rates of primary treatment admissions for heroin and other opioids. Vermont was one of only six states to receive the grants, which totaled $5.8 million.
“Every community could use more resources in this battle, but the Vermont Drug Task Force is best equipped to identify and arrest those who are behind heroin trafficking,” said Leahy, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “They have a proven and successful track record, which is why I have been proud to support their efforts in Washington.”
The Vermont Drug Task Force is an interagency partnership, operated through Vermont State Police, for which Leahy has secured nearly $10 million in federal funding. Its undercover drug investigators are made up of state troopers, local, county and federal law enforcement officers whose primary mission is to investigate individuals trafficking illegal drugs.
“We know that treatment and prevention are also very important in addressing heroin addiction, and that is why I worked to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act just last month,” Leahy said. “But to be truly effective, we have to get at the heart of the heroin supply. We need a coordinated effort that reaches into every corner of our state. We need to target those who make a profit from other people’s misery.”
Vermont State Police recently graduated its new recruits from the Vermont Police Academy, allowing for the five seasoned troopers to be reassigned to the new investigator/detective positions on the task force. The expansion increases the number of task force investigators from 19 to 24.
U.S. Attorney Eric Miller and Vermont Health Commissioner Harry Chen, M.D., also joined in Monday’s announcement, which was held at the Vermont State Police barracks in Williston.

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