Utilizing his role as Majority Leader, McConnell drew national attention to Clark, Logan and Simpson Counties to help protect Kentucky families
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on Thursday, June 4, 2020 that Clark, Logan and Simpson Counties in Kentucky have been chosen for inclusion in the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. The HIDTA program, operated under the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), provides federal support to law enforcement agencies in designated counties with coordination, equipment, technology and additional resources to combat drug production and trafficking. These three Kentucky counties are among only 15 counties nationwide to receive new HIDTA designations this year.
“As long as Kentucky families continue to be plagued by addiction and substance abuse, I’ll keep working to deliver the federal resources and support to keep our communities safe,” said Senator McConnell. “Kentucky’s law enforcement officers know the great benefits that come with the HIDTA program, and I was proud to help Clark, Logan and Simpson Counties get these long-sought designations. As Senate Majority Leader, I’m putting Kentucky’s priorities first, and I’m proud of these potentially lifesaving results.”
Senator McConnell directly urged ONDCP Director James Carroll to consider Clark, Logan and Simpson Counties to be included in the HIDTA program, highlighting each county’s geographic proximity to metropolitan areas and federal interstates that bring increased drug trafficking and violence. With the inclusion of these new designations, approximately half of all Kentuckians live in a HIDTA county.
As Senate Majority Leader, Senator McConnell regularly draws national attention to Kentucky’s prevention, treatment and enforcement efforts with the President’s Cabinet and federal agencies. At Senator McConnell’s request, multiple Drug Czars have visited Kentucky to witness firsthand the scope of the problem and see the innovative work being done to combat the epidemic of drug misuse and abuse. Director Carroll joined the Senator in Kentucky twice last year, visiting some of the hardest hit communities around the state.
In 2018, Kentucky saw a nearly 15 percent decline in the number of fatal overdoes from the prior year—the largest drop in more than a decade. This decrease was due in large part to the hard work of law enforcement officers in disrupting the supply of illegal drugs flowing into Kentucky communities.
However, that same year, Kentucky still had the ninth highest drug overdose death rate in the country. Clark, Logan and Simpson Counties are suffering from an overwhelming number of drug-related offenses driven primarily by the influx of illicit methamphetamines, fentanyl, prescription drugs, cocaine and heroin. Programs like HIDTA are part of the comprehensive response between local, state and the federal government and played a role in the significant decline in overdose deaths.
“Kentucky’s law enforcement proudly stands on the frontline against the scourge of illegal drugs in our communities. As we do, I’m grateful to know Senator McConnell has our backs,” said Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association Executive Director and Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force Director Tommy Loving. “We were hopeful to have one or two of these counties be selected to join the HIDTA program, but Senator McConnell used his leadership role in Washington to get all three for us. The new federal assistance will help our communities sleep more soundly knowing the maximum resources are available to combat illegal drugs in the Commonwealth.”
“Clark County has been trying for some time to get selected for the HIDTA program because we know what it’ll mean for our officers and the families they serve. Senator McConnell worked with us every step of the way and got us over the finish line,” said Clark County Sheriff and Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police President Berl Perdue. “Clark County has no better advocate in Washington than Senator Mitch McConnell.”
“Senator McConnell has been a champion of bringing additional law enforcement resources and federal coordination to Kentucky,” said South Central Kentucky Drug Task Force Director Jacky Hunt. “His leadership has been instrumental to keeping Kentucky safe, and we can’t thank him enough for his support.”
“We are grateful to Senator McConnell for his advocacy on behalf of our officers and our community,” Russellville Police Department Chief Todd Raymer. “The HIDTA designation will be a major factor as we keep drugs off our streets.”
Today’s announcement builds on Senator McConnell results in mobilizing the federal government to advance the comprehensive response to the scourge of opioid and substance abuse in Kentucky. Senator McConnell has a long history of working closely with federal, state and local medical authorities, treatment centers and law-enforcement offices to secure federal resources to help fight opioid and substance abuse in Kentucky. In December 2019, Senator McConnell, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured important provisions that were signed into law (full list here) to help Kentucky fight the opioid and substance abuse epidemic which included:
- $285 million for HIDTA to combat meth and opioid abuse.
- $220.6 million to support the National Guard Counter-Drug Program. The Kentucky National Guard, working with Appalachia HIDTA, Kentucky State Police, and other law enforcement agencies, will use funding from this program to support marijuana eradication efforts.
Senator McConnell has also fought for the expansion of the Appalachia HIDTA to hard-hit counties across the state, including Jefferson County in 2009, Hardin County in 2012, Nelson and Madison Counties in 2014, Montgomery and Powell Counties in 2018, and Boyd County in 2019. He also helped secure the inclusion of Boone, Campbell and Kenton Counties in the Ohio HIDTA in 2016. Because of Senator McConnell’s consistent advocacy, nearly half of all Kentuckians currently live in a HIDTA county. Also, in response to Senator McConnell’s request to boost federal law enforcement’s presence in Western Kentucky, both the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opened offices in Paducah in 2018.