FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 25, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey announced $1,698,441 in federal grant funding to assist in the fight against the opioid epidemic through targeted drug trafficking enforcement.
“Today’s funding announcement is another step forward in helping law enforcement and the justice system have critical resources in place to best protect and serve Kentuckians by working to remove illegal drugs from our communities,” said Gov. Beshear. “Through a collaborative approach on both a state and federal level, we will be able to aggressively respond and help prevent drugs from continuing to wreak havoc on our families.”
Funds were awarded to 11 drug task force agencies located across Kentucky to disrupt and dismantle mid- to upper-level drug trafficking organizations.
“The Commonwealth of Kentucky must work together to ensure that every person is safe, and every person feels safe, in their community,” Secretary Harvey said. “One way we can accomplish this is to reduce crime and violence and address drug trafficking happening throughout our state; this funding will help in that fight and also hopefully bring prosecution of these dangerous drug crimes.”
The federal funds allocated to Kentucky from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), a component of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, is the leading source of federal justice funding to agencies serving the criminal justice system to hire additional personnel and/or purchase equipment, supplies, contractual support, training, technical assistance and information systems.
For a full list of 2021-2022 JAG sub-award recipients, please visit the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s website. Leaders from several organizations described what receiving these funds means to their community and the citizens they protect.
“Without this important funding to our operations, it would be difficult to investigate and dismantle the drug trafficking organizations in our area. We are grateful to the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s Grants Management Division for their continued support and helping us through the grant process,” said Tommy Loving, Director of Warren County Drug Task Force.
“JAG funding has tremendously assisted the successful outcome of the prosecution of drug traffickers who are involved with the sale of two major drugs causing overdoses and deaths: heroin and fentanyl. As a result, dangerous drug complaints can be addressed more readily, making our communities safer,” said Jeffery “Mark” Burden, Director of HCSO/Bluegrass Narcotic’s Task Force.
“JAG is key to the operation of our multi-jurisdictional task force. Without this funding our ability to combat illegal substances such heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl that is trafficked within our communities would be greatly impacted,” said Wayne Conn, Director of Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force. “Because of this grant, we have been able to reduce the amount of illicit substances in turn disrupting and dismantling the supply chain, impacting drug availability and usage within our communities.”
Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has awarded almost $8 million in grant funding to assist state and local law enforcement agencies for them to purchase the tools and resources that will not only allow them to protect our communities, but ensure their own safety as they stand on the front lines every day.
On Oct. 20, the Governor and Secretary Harvey announced $188,784 in grant funding to help ensure that children negatively impacted by parental addiction in Kentucky have access to legal services, community resources and therapeutic services.
On Aug. 23, Gov. Beshear and Secretary Harvey announced a total of almost $1.2 million in grant funding to implement a collaborative project creating pathways to recovery and healing for those that have been negatively impacted by opioids, stimulants and substance abuse. Additionally, in June 2021, Gov. Beshear announced more than $570,000 in grant funding had been awarded to the Jeffersontown Police Department and Access to Justice Commission to develop a variety of treatment options and provide the commonwealth with another resource tool to end the devastating drug epidemic.
In February, the Beshear administration also announced $4.6 million in grant funding to expand treatment and recovery services, including those for mothers and pregnant women with opioid addiction.
In March, Gov. Beshear signed House Bill 7 into law to ensure that communities are recovery-ready by having resources in place, such as employment, transportation, recovery meetings and support groups.
Additionally, the Governor championed legislation action like Senate Bill 64 and House Bill 254, making it easier for law enforcement to conduct undercover stings and increase the chances of stopping a horrific crime against a child from being facilitated through the internet, while also providing law enforcement officers with the authority to charge offenders with harsher crimes to keep them away from the public, preventing further interactions with Kentucky’s most vulnerable population.
The KY Help Call Center, created in 2017 through a partnership with Operation UNITE, remains available to those with a substance use disorder, or their friends or family members, as a quick resource with information on treatment options and open slots among treatment providers. Individuals may call 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak one-on-one with a specialist who will connect them with treatment as quickly as possible.
The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health manages a vital website, findhelpnowky.org, for Kentucky health care providers, court officials, families and individuals seeking options for substance abuse treatment and recovery. It offers real-time information about available space in treatment programs, and guides users to the right type of treatment for their needs. The site provides a search engine for drug treatment, helping users locate treatment providers based on location, facility type and category of treatment needed.
The Kentucky State Police (KSP) Angel Initiative is a proactive program designed to help people battle addiction. Anyone suffering from a substance use disorder can visit one of KSP’s 16 posts located throughout the commonwealth to be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. The Angel Initiative is completely voluntary, and individuals will not be arrested or charged with any violations if they agree to participate in treatment. For more information about the Angel Initiative, visit the KSP website.
The Office of Drug Control Policy has continued to work diligently with several agencies throughout the commonwealth, including Kentucky Opioid Response Effort, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, Department of Corrections and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to successfully increase the distribution of naloxone (Narcan). To access naloxone or for more resources on how to respond to an overdose, click here or here.
For a video from Gov. Beshear on available treatment and resources, and the importance of knowing how to respond to an overdose, click here.