By ZOË WATKINS
During Tuesday’s Law Enforcement Committee meeting, Commissioner Eric Maddox drilled Sheriff Austin Swing about releasing numbers from the 17th Judicial Drug Task Force (DTF).
Swing verbally reported there were 20 investigations by the Drug Task Force through the month of November.
“I know that last month I made an official request that those DTF numbers to be included within your report,” said Maddox. “Where are you on that?”
Swing reported that he had talked to the director who said he did not want those numbers to be released other than to law enforcement. “The only way he would do otherwise was if [District Attorney Robert Carter] was to tell him okay,” said Swing.
“These are the same numbers you’ve given us historically, verbally. So are these the same numbers that you’re saying the director does not want to disclose anymore?” asked Maddox.
“You’ll get what I’m doing now,” said Swing, referring to the report he was giving during the meeting.
Maddox has been pushing for the DTF stats for several months.
At the September meeting, Commissioner Maddox asked if drug charges are related to more arrests than are indicated on the report and if the Sheriff could include more information. This was so it could be ascertained how many drugs had been discovered during investigations or if the arrest was drug related, according to the September meeting minutes.
According to data given at previous meetings by the jail’s program director, Lt. Chris Cook, 85% of those incarcerated in Bedford County are in for drug-related charges. Last year the state reported that 95% incarcerated in Tennessee are in for drug related offenses.
At the previous meeting in November, Deputy Sheriff Nikia Elliott was on hand to answer any questions. He reviewed the Drug Task Force report noting there were 24 investigations conducted by the task force, with 12 of those being in Bedford County. There were 28 defendants identified, with 14 of those being previously convicted felons.
“I think that it’s important for us as a county to understand these numbers. I think part of the reason why we’re here on this committee is to have a better understanding of what happens within your shop, so to speak,” said Maddox.
“It makes me beg the question, why else are we here if we can’t get this data?”
Maddox pressed on, “Are we not able to receive this written data from you moving forward as it pertains to the request I made last month for the DTF report to be included?”
“Well I think I’ve already answered that,” said Swing.
“So in other words, you all are going to be the ones privy to that information and it’s really kind of none of our business,” retorted Maddox.
“Well, I didn’t say that,” Swing said back.
“That’s what I get,” said Maddox.
Commissioner Mark Thomas added that the DTF numbers will still be given verbally, just not in print.
“Nothing changes,” said Swing.