September 28, 2006

Forfeited Drug Money Helping Better Arm Sheriffs Department

A money forfeiture from a local drug bust has helped insure that the Scotland County Sheriffs Department is well armed for future such activity.

Sheriff Wayne Winn reported that his department recently purchased three Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifles. With accessories and ammunition, the purchase price was approximately $4,700.

As law enforcement officers, we are outgunned all the time when we respond to calls, Winn stated. This is something we have been looking at for a long time but we never could make it work in our annual budgets.

Winn noted that his officers were responding to calls of armed suspects simply armed with a handgun, knowing that in a large number of these incidents the assailant was armed at least with a high powered rifle.

The department carries shotguns in each of its vehicles. The addition of the rifles will insure officers wont be overmatched when dealing with such incidents, Winn said.

The sheriff noted that he and his officers are establishing new policies to regulate the weapons and noted that specialty ammo was purchased to make the weapons safer if they are used in a populated area.

The funding for the purchase came from forfeiture of cash and property made during a 2003 drug arrest in Scotland County.

The sheriffs department received 30-percent of the proceeds from the sale of vehicles and ATVs seized during the arrest as well as a large amount of cash. The Missouri State Highway Patrol received 30-percent of the forfeiture with 20-percent each going to the US Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

These forfeited funds are spent at the discretion of the sheriff and are not controlled by vote of the county commission.

The sheriffs department still has roughly $7,000 in the special fund and Winn stated he would like to continue to use the money to provide equipment the department could not afford under its annual budget.

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