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MUSTANG Drug Task Force funding agreement changed by state

Every year the MUSTANG Drug Task for is awarded grant money by the Missouri Department of Public Safety. The money is used to help employ the members.

The money was awarded to them again this year, but after the task force agreed upon the terms, the state changed them, holding the counties and cities who employ these officers more liable in cases where a lawsuit takes place.

It even makes those jurisdictions pay for the state’s expenses. The language in the agreement was changed right after a fatal shooting involving an officer in Ferguson.

“We’ve been doing this since I believe 1996 and it’s never been written this way and when we applied this year it was not written this way, the application came out with the change of writing in September even though the grant was technically awarded on the 1st of July”, said Cole County Sheriff Greg White.

Sheriff White said the MUSTANG Drug Task Force has made several good cases and taken down large operations. According to a $107,000 state grant contract, the funds used to employ those officers could be affected.

County Counselor Jill LaHue said, “When we got it back all the sudden there is a different set of terms and conditions and it included these phrases that imposed all of this liability on Cole County and I saw that and thought there is absolutely no way we’re going to agree to this.”

The contract also stated that each officer’s department will also be held liable if that officer is involved in a lawsuit and that those agencies would have to pay for all state expenses as well. Sheriff White says, “the state realistically should have little liability in this, but apparently they think their stature is such that they want us to cover their liability.”

Boonville, Fulton, Jefferson City and Cole County each have an office where a portion of their salary is paid for by this grant. These officers’ salaries might have to come out of each agencies general funds.

“One of my personal is paid half by the grant and we’re hoping that the state will revisit this and take out that particular language and understand that their liability is their liability,” said Sheriff White.

Jill LaHue said, “You make an offer and the other party accepts and those are the terms and those are the final terms of the agreement, what they’ve done is gone around and switched the terms of agreement after we already agreed to the initial terms.”

At Friday’s Cole County Commission meeting, officials agreed not to go forward and accept this grant until the state changes the wording to those that appeared on the original agreement.

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