Letters: ’I have never asked for a budget increase’
Recently, it has been posted to Facebook and spread as gossip around the county that the sheriff’s office budget has increased by $900,000 and it has also been said that we have an out-of-control drug problem. This is completely untrue. I have never asked for a budget increase in four years.
Since Jan. 2017, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has diligently fought the illegal drug problem in the county, as well as provided resources to those with addiction problems. As sheriff, I hold this as a top priority and feel it is my responsibility to work toward a better community. We take the safety and security of our communities very seriously, thus the launching of the campaign “We Don’t Meth Around.” We have also introduced the DARE program back into the area schools and in August, we’ll also be introducing the Florida Sheriff’s Explorer Program to our youth. There is still a goal for having a rehabilitation center in Franklin County and plans will be announced in the near future.
Recently, an onsite substance abuse care coordinator was added to the sheriff’s office, which increased the leverage of resources available in Franklin County. This position was made possible through a grant, funded by Big Bend Community Based Care, and will connect people wanting help with necessary resources. The sheriff’s office has helped over 80 people with addiction problems find a rehabilitation center and hope for a better life.
In addition, hundreds of arrests at the street level have been made for illegal drug use and sale in Franklin County. The sheriff’s office has been extremely proactive, working to keep our county safe and free of the nuisance that illegal drug users create in our neighborhoods. To combat the illegal sale of drugs, the sheriff’s office has forged strong, working relationships with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the United States and State Attorney offices. This has been vital in the apprehension of largescale drug dealers, thus multiple indictments for illegal drug sales have been obtained with more to follow. These typically result in longer sentences for the bigger drug traffickers.
Also, I was able to ensure three school resource deputies in our schools, as well as a full-time deputy dedicated solely to traffic control to work our problem areas and to help save lives.
Finally, the new budget for 2020-21 has been submitted, with a decrease. This is just a few examples of the programs, practices and initiatives that we have instituted at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, over the last three and a half years.
I believe the county budget has been utilized with best practice in mind. I made a commitment to the voters of Franklin County, to work tirelessly to stop illegal drugs, traffic issues within the county and to make the youth of Franklin County a top priority. I am proud of the team at the sheriff’s office and together, we have accomplished a lot over the last three years and six months.
It is my hope, that with continuous efforts, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office will help more people become productive citizens in the community.
Sheriff AJ “Tony” Smith