Overwhelmed by the massive number of drug crimes, the Cambria County Drug Task Force will soon get help from the state attorney general’s office.
“There are days where the battle seems insurmountable,” said Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan.
The attorney general’s office will take over administrative responsibilities and help arrest and prosecute drug criminals, similar to Blair and Centre Counties.
“Just the expertise of analysts and forensic scientists, the amount of resources they have to combat the problem is going to be a tremendous help,” Callihan said.
Thursday, the county commissioners approved a liaison position between the drug task force and the attorney general’s office. The man appointed, Arnold Bernard Sr., is a former F.B.I agent.
“He can definitely help with the drug difficulties we’re having,” said Mark Wissinger, a Cambria County Commissioner.
Some residents expressed concerns that by handing over administrative power to the attorney general’s office, the county is eliminating the drug task force. However, the DA’s office said that’s not the case. They said there will be more money and manpower to tackle drug crime.
“This would be the worst time ever to shut down operations relating to drug investigations,” said Callihan.
The liaison position will be funded by a grant from the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency until March 2018. After that, it will be paid for by the AG’s office.
Under the new partnership, Cambria County will now have the power to force witnesses to come forward.
“If they can open a case and have enough proof to start a grand jury, those people will be subpoenaed to appear and required to appear,” said Callihan.
Assistance Callihan said comes at a critical time.
“We need help. We went to the state level to ask for help because we literally need help with the crime and drug problem that’s going on here,” said Callihan.