District Attorney Mike O’Dell is pleased to announce the Cherokee County Major Crimes Unit (MCU) has recently been awarded a grant by the Alabama Department of Economic & Community Affairs (ADECA) in the amount of $50,000.
MCU Director Josh Summerford said the grant will be used to purchase additional crime scene equipment, cameras and an additional vehicle. Part of the funds will also be used for law enforcement training.
O’Dell pointed out that the Major Crimes Unit was established in October of 2014 as a cooperative effort between the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office, the Police Departments of Cedar Bluff, Centre and Leesburg, and the Sheriff’s Office, to combine resources and improve communication among law enforcement agencies to better investigate major crimes in Cherokee County.
“The cooperative investigations provided by the Major Crimes Unit have been very successful, mainly due to the diligent efforts and commitment of the Director and investigators assigned to the Unit,” O’Dell stated. “The ability and willingness to have open communications among the member agencies has been vital to our continued success.”
O’Dell and Summerford expressed appreciation to ADECA for its assistance in the grant process. “Due to the limited resources available across Alabama for Units such as ours, competition for the grants is very intense among state drug task forces and major crimes units. We are very pleased that the folks at ADECA believed our Unit was worthy of this grant, and that we had earned their trust and support,” O’Dell stated. “It is a testament to the hard work and exceptional professionalism demonstrated by the law enforcement officials in our MCU.”
Sheriff Jeff Shaver pointed out that the funds will be used to further the goals and work of local law enforcement both in fighting drugs and in investigating major crimes throughout Cherokee County. “Without these funds it would be very difficult to carry out the mission of our Unit.”
O’Dell pointed out that last year’s grant provided much-needed vehicles to the investigators of both the Centre and Leesburg Police Departments.
“Due to budget cuts to the various law enforcement agencies across the state, we find ourselves more and more isolated and on our own with respect to drug enforcement and major crimes investigation. These monies, along with the contract that the various law enforcement agencies throughout Cherokee County have with Mark Hopwood and the Jacksonville State University Center for Applied Forensics, will enable the Unit to continue to provide the crucial law enforcement services so desperately needed in our county. I applaud Director Summerford for his outstanding leadership, and the investigators assigned to the Unit. I don’t believe these investigative services and drug enforcement have ever been in better hands. But let me also point out that our success would not have been possible without the unity of purpose and support for the MCU demonstrated by Sheriff Shaver, Centre Police Chief Kirk Blankenship, Cedar Bluff Police Chief Steve Walden, Leesburg Police Chief Brian Gilliland, the mayors and council for each of these municipalities and the Cherokee County Commission.”