Questions Over Rutherford County Drug Fund Spending - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Questions Over Rutherford County Drug Fund Spending

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by Jason Lamb

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Money for iTunes gift cards and 3D High Definition TVs are items you might find in a family budget from time to time, but do they belong in a sheriff's office fund? 

Leaders in Rutherford county are asking that question after the sheriff's office there says they spent hundreds of dollars for those items out of the fund that's made up of seized drug money.

Those questions are coming up as budgets for next year are being finalized all over Rutherford County. 

One of the sheriff's department requests is to fund drug unit officer positions from the taxpayer-funded general fund instead of the drug control fund that is made up from the sale of seized drug money and property.

"The balances in the drug fund is slowly going away and those expenditures for personnel is a recurring expense," said Lisa Nolen, Rutherford County budget director.  "The money coming in isn't always a guarantee."

However, the expenses from that drug control fund are coming under question.

The sheriff's department and county budget director said the department spent hundreds of dollars from that fund, not on training or drug enforcement, but for HDTVs and iTunes gift cards.

The sheriff's department said it spent $500 for those gift cards. 

They said it was spent on apps that help them on the job,like an app that cross references names while serving search warrants.

"Anybody that owns an iPad knows you have to have a gift card for iTunes to download any type of programs, and the type of programs narcotics would use is things used in their job," said Capt. Egon Grissom with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department.  "I can assure you nobody's downloading music or games or anything like that."

As for the TV, the sheriff's department said that's for job related use as well: $598 for a TV used to play back surveillance video from drug busts.

"You have to have high quality resolution TVs to view those, it's not like we have TVs hooked up to play games or that kind of stuff," said Grissom.  "It's job related, period."

The sheriff's department is asking Rutherford county commissioners to absorb the cost of three of its drug unit employees.  They say that will allow them to free up more drug funds for training and enforcement.

Email: jlamb@newschannel5.com
Twitter: Twitter.com/NC5_JasonLamb
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