ALPENA - The Huron Undercover Narcotics Team updated Alpena Municipal Council on its local impact on crime and specifically removing drug dealers from the streets. Commander Frank Keck also made a request to council for $16,700 and one city officer to help continue the service it is providing Northeast Michigan.
Keck said in 2013, 119 people were arrested by HUNT, 52 in the city. He said overall there were 153 investigations and 59, or 39 percent, also took place in Alpena. Keck said the team is funded via a federal grant and contributions from other local, governing bodies and the money is needed to help continue the mission of the team of detectives. Last year the city allotted about $7,500 and one full-time officer to HUNT operations. He said some of the other teams in the state aren't getting the support HUNT gets and are in danger of being dissolved.
"If I had to have one or the other, I would rather have the man because I can't arrest people with money," Keck said. "We need the money. We have some other teams in Michigan that are quite honestly looking like they are going under and I don't want to end up in that type of situation."
Police Chief Joel Jett, who was a HUNT officer in the past, said there is a good relationship between city police and the drug enforcement unit. He said the two teams work well together in sharing intelligence and resources to some investigations and make arrests.
"We have had an officer on HUNT since its inception back in the early 1990s," Jett said. "It is a two-way street in terms of cooperation between HUNT and our department. As far as the money and the budget, that decision will be made by the council. I support HUNT and its mission, but it is not up to me to decide how the city should fund it."
Mayor Matt Waligora said he is a large supporter of HUNT and in keeping the people of Alpena safe from crime and drugs. He said if it were up to him he would grant the full amount and an officer, but until the budget begins he doesn't know if that will be possible.
"HUNT does a great job and are a great asset," Waligora said. "I'm a supporter, but at this point we don't know if there is room in the budget. We will have to weigh how much we can afford to give. If it were just up to me however I would give them the full support."
In other business:
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.