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Law Enforcement Center file

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office is seen on East Cook Street in downtown Portage.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office plans to use money from two grants for 2019 totaling $47,266 to combat drug trafficking and overdose deaths.

Sheriff Roger Brandner said expensive tools such as field test kits and fume hoods are needed and would have been purchased anyway, but the grants will help save local taxpayer money in the effort to crack down on illegal drug use.

“We’re trying to reduce the impact of the drug epidemic that we’ve seen here locally,” Brandner said. “This money just reaffirms that we’re doing things right.”

The Wisconsin Department of Justice announced Feb. 15 it had awarded nearly $1 million in 23 separate grants that would benefit various law enforcement agencies in 48 counties.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office received $32,266.

Another state DOJ grant worth $15,000 has been awarded to Columbia County to combat heroin and methamphetamine use.

“These funds will help law enforcement officers who are working to fight drug trafficking,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement. “While we need to continue expanding access to substance-abuse treatment, we also must ensure that investigators have the resources they need to dismantle drug-trafficking organizations.”

Brandner said the grant money is available now, and his office intends to begin purchasing tools and funding drug-prevention training programs within the next two weeks.

Tools such as field test kits and fume hoods are essential to determine whether substances include certain drugs, particularly fentanyl.

Fentanyl is especially hazardous for officers to handle, because if particles go airborne, it can cause a drug overdose, Brandner said. He added a fume hood should help protect officers in the field.

Brandner said the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has led local efforts to combat drug use, and thanked Deputy Sgt. Dave Clark for writing the county’s grant proposal, which succeeded in a competitive process.

“We’re obviously really excited to be chosen for this money. We know not every county was selected,” Brandner said. “Our goal, our mission, would be to reduce the number of drugs infiltrated into our county here.”

Follow Brad on Twitter @BradMikeAllen or call him at 608-745-3510.

Reporter

Portage Daily Register public safety reporter

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