Legislature Passes Bill to Increase Funding for Etowah Co. Law Enforcement Agencies

By Phil Williams

On Thursday, the Alabama legislature passed legislation by Senator Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City) to increase funding for the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Etowah County Drug Task Force. Senator Williams worked closely with Representatives Mack Butler, Becky Nordgren, and Craig Ford to craft the bill, which now goes to Governor Bentley for his signature.

The increased funding will allow the District Attorney’s Office to hire an additional assistant district attorney, increase pay for deputies in the Sheriff’s Office, and provide more resources for the Drug Task Force to fight drugs like heroin and meth on the streets of Etowah County. The increased funding will come from an adjustment to the county’s existing 1% sales tax allocations. No new taxes are proposed.

“A cursory glance at the news in recent weeks shows a real need for increased funding for our law enforcement agencies. As our children are being shot, heroin traffickers operate boldly in our communities, while close to twenty capital murder suspects are in the Etowah County jail,” remarked Williams. “It is vital our law enforcement agencies have additional funding – our deputies put their lives on the line every day, and we need to make sure their pay is on par with the pay levels of surrounding municipal police forces.”

The intent of the legislation is to provide consistent perpetual funding to the Drug Task Force to ensure that they are not negatively impacted by the decline in federal grants. It also adds funding to the District Attorney’s office that would be earmarked for the purpose of adding another Assistant DA to the staff to prosecute crime. The legislation also raises the level of pay for Deputies in the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department who currently make less than any law enforcement agency in the region, creating a constant loss of personnel to the Department.

“Today is a day that has been long awaited for by the deputies of the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office enforcement division, one that has been longed for more than 20 years,” said Todd Entrekin, Sheriff of Etowah County. “We appreciate Senator Phil Williams and the local Etowah County delegation for their hard work and dedication. As I said in an email that I sent to all deputies today, ‘this is the happiest day of my career’.”

“The agents of the Etowah County Drug Enforcement Unit are extremely grateful to Senator Williams for sponsoring legislation which will allow the Drug Task Force to continue the fight against illegal narcotic crimes in Etowah County,” remarked Rob Savage, Commander of the Drug Task Force. “We are so proud to have the support and confidence of Sen. Williams and Representatives Becky Nordgren, Mack Butler and Craig Ford. Their hard work as a delegation was instrumental in keeping Etowah County at the forefront of narcotic enforcement in this region.”

“The District Attorney’s Office workload is close to exceeding their capacity, so there is a need for another assistant D.A.,” said Williams. “And unfortunately, the drug trade is not slowing down, so it’s imperative the Drug Task Force has every resource it needs to fight illegal drugs coming from Mexico and all over the world into our neighborhoods. I also believe that the current inability to develop seniority in our Deputy ranks is a travesty that is largely due to the fact that they make just $11.50 per hour. Our law enforcement and District Attorneys are the front line in the war on crime and they deserve to be given every opportunity to succeed. This legislation gives them the tools they need.”