CLEARly Looking for Governor's Funding

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How much will the governor give? It's the question on the minds of Brazos County authorities as they look to start a new criminal response team. But it's the governor's office that cut funding to the drug task force that is soon to be disbanded.

Like their acronym, the goals of the team known as Criminal Law Enforcement Assistance and Response are CLEAR.

"This is not necessarily a drug task force," said Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk. "It could be a burglary, a ring that we're investigating, a theft ring, those types of things. So any augmentation of an existing investigation, this team would be appropriate to be working on it."

With the three-county drug task force on the outs due to a funding fallout from the state, it's the state that will likely be the major source of money for CLEAR. But the governor's office says they won't fund the whole team.

"College Station has made a committment, and Bryan has indicated that they will continue to work with the team if they can assign someone directly on the team," Kirk said.

The soon-to-be-old drug task force had a budget around $1.2 million according to the sheriff. Early projections have the new CLEAR team needing a bit more than $1 million over an 18-month span. Though the new team would cover more than drug-related crime, it would only cover Brazos County, unlike the old drug task force.

"We didn't want to fail for a lack of money, and the operational expense of operating such a team, so we went out and developed a budget that was a little over a million dollars," Kirk said.

And Sheriff Kirk can't emphasize enough the unit's importance. "It would have an impact on investigations in this county if we didn't have the funds and we couldn't keep this type of unit together," he said.

It's an impact authorities don't want to experience.

Kirk believes his office will be hearing back from the governor's office in the next two or three weeks on if and how much the state will provide.