"I think we can better serve the citizens by pulling our officers off to serve the narcotics issues in our City," said Lubbock Police Chief Claude Jones.
Lubbock's Police Chief answers the questions we promised to ask about the war on drugs in Lubbock and the South Plains after a decision to leave a regional drug task force. As NewsChannel 11 first reported yesterday, the Lubbock Police Department is pulling out of the South Plains Regional Narcotics Task Force.
We now know more about the department's decision to leave and what will happen to the officers working in that program. Police Chief Claude Jones says the departments decision to walk away from the task force boils down to three issues: personnel, money and risks. All of which are wearing on the department that is understaffed and financially trying to cut back. As for the risks, according to the LPD, they far outweigh the good.
"Well we're going through a budget process right at the moment. It's my responsibility as the manager of the police department to be able to report to the council. We're got to make sure that we're getting the best quality of work and the best bang for our buck with our officers and when I see something on the radar it's my responsibility to let them know what I'm seeing," says Chief Claude Jones.
Chief Jones says since Amarillo was sued a whopping $5 million as a result of the Tulia drug incident, he's reevaluated our role as leaders of this force. "We have been in operation since 1988 and we don't have any problems with our cases, we have a very good reputation," Chief Jones said.
So they are pulling out in advance, as the risk of spearheading this effort continues to increase. "This puts the direct responsibility of a lawsuit on the City of Lubbock."
Chief Jones says the drug problem is still there, and so are their efforts, this just means they will shift focus.
"It'll help the citizens by, we can bring four officers back to work 100% of their time along with the rest of our narcotics division on issues throughout our narcotics enforcement and they are the ones footing the bill on it. The task force and CJD they like to say 25/75% split on this deal but I will tell you there is time spent in our accounting department by personnel, there are supervisor time, telephone expenses, office expenses all of these things come into play," Chief Jones says.
Chief Jones says the drug problem in Lubbock is a growing one, with more and more people getting into the making of meth amphetamines, but he says his narcotics team is working hard to cease the production every day.
As for the future of the Regional Task Force, it depends on if another agency in the area wants to take the risk and step up to spearhead the efforts.