Douglas County to rejoin Drug Task Force in 2020

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WATERVILLE — The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office plans to rejoin the Columbia River Drug Task Force, 15 years after opting out of the multi-agency investigative team.

Sheriff Kevin Morris announced Tuesday the Douglas County Board of Commissioners authorized roughly $100,000 needed to hire one new deputy, while assigning an already serving deputy to the task force full-time.

“I cannot afford to lose any boots on the ground,” Morris says. “So the only way I could assign somebody to the task force was to have a new position to fill that vacancy. “

The Columbia River Drug Task Force has been in place since 1991, when it was established with full federal funding. Douglas County dropped out in 2005 after funding cuts. Today, team members come from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, Wenatchee and East Wenatchee police departments, and the Washington State Patrol.

Right now the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has 31 commissioned deputies, including five sergeants and three corporals. Morris says it could be the better part of a year before a new deputy is ready to go into the field.

“The value is clear: We’re paying for one body, yet we have equal ownership, if you will, in the drug task force, which is a five-man team — a specialized unit directly for drugs.”