Concerns over county’s drug task force

Local News
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Johnstown resident Laycee Norton worries about crime in her hometown.

“It’s getting really scary and dangerous,” said Laycee Norton, a Johnstown resident. “It scares me to walk out my door and be afraid of the guns and stuff.”

The Cambria County Drug Task Force will get more money and manpower from the state to arrest and prosecute drug criminals. Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office will run the task force, like in Blair and Centre Counties.

Thursday, the commissioners approved an agreement with the AG’s office for county law enforcement to participate with the task force. The agreement is for administrative purposes, to protect officers from liability and allow the county to get reimbursed from the state for the officers’ work.

However, residents and commissioners expressed concerns that the new task force leadership will mean fewer arrests.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be a shortage of drug raids. I can’t tell you that. I don’t know,” said Cambria County Commissioner B.J. Smith.

District Attorney Kelly Callihan said that won’t be the case. Instead, there will be more resources.

“Any type of change, I understand there’s anxiety,” said Callihan. “Drug investigations are not going to suffer, they are going to be bigger and better.”

The agreement gives county detectives, sheriff’s deputies and probation officers the ability to participate with the drug task force. Other police departments throughout the county will have to sign the agreement if they want to be part of the drug task force, as well.

“I don’t want to see any less of an effort and I don’t think there will be,” said Cambria County Commissioner Mark Wissinger.

“I think that they’ll take control and try to stop the drugs,” Norton said.

Norton is hopeful the new partnership will make a difference and help her feel a little safer at home.

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