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September 2, 2009

County Drug Task Force to be disbanded

Investigator Collard will return to police duties in Gun Barrel City to fill personnel needs within the department

The Henderson County Drug Task Force — which has been credited for bringing down methamphetamine operations and drug dealers since 2003 — will cease to exist as of Oct. 1, Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt said Wednesday.

That’s when Investigator Kenny Collard returns to Gun Barrel City as a patrol officer.

A tough economy and budgetary needs were given as reasons for the change.

“We’re also pulling in one of our warrant officers,” GBC City Manager Gerry Boren said.

Sheriff Ray Nutt said he understands the necessity for the budget cuts. Nonetheless, he is concerned about the cutbacks.

“We’ll no longer have a narcotics task force as of Oct. 1,” Nutt said.

Instead it will be back to the three investigators the county had prior to the task force’s creation.

More than 35 meth labs were recovered the first year of it’s creation by then Sheriff Ronny Brownlow in 2003. It was by far the most lab busts of any county in Texas.

“I hate it for us, and for Gun Barrel City,” said Captain Kay Langford, who heads up the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division for the county. “But we’ll continue to do what we do. Gun Barrel City has been a big help on the narcotics unit.”

At its height, the unit had five full-time investigators and one more part-time investigator. Prior to that, the HCSO had only two investigators for the entire county, but that’s when the methamphetamine problem got out of control, prompting the formation of the task force under Brownlow.

With Collard returning to police duties in GBC, only three investigators remain — all members of the Sheriff’s Department.

The Drug Task Force had been made up of members of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department, with the idea that each law-enforcement agency would also contribute one officer, if they could afford it, to work strictly with the agency.

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