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SANTA PAULA : U.S. Funds Sought for Drug Program

Santa Paula city officials want to use federal Community Development Block Grant funds to finance a police-run drug education program that was cut earlier this year for lack of funds.

The City Council has agreed to ask county regulators, who decide how cities can use federal funds, to approve the idea.

Santa Paula Police Chief Walter Adair was forced to reassign his one Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer earlier this year to street patrol.

The application approved this week by the council would allow use of $42,000 of the Community Development Block Grant money to hire an entry-level police officer, Adair said.

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“It’s the first time we’ve used this money to fund any of our police programs,” Adair said. “But I feel confident we’ll be successful in getting it.”

City Administrator Arnold Dowdy said that under existing block grant guidelines, the federal money must be used to fund programs that support at least 50% of the area’s low- to moderate-income families.

Because nearly 60% of the children tutored about drug abuse prevention in the DARE program qualify, he said he sees no problem in gaining approval.

“It’s one more way we’re trying to be creative in dealing with the city’s budget problem,” Dowdy said.

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The approval process will take about three months, and any new officer would require about four months of training before joining the force, Adair said. It would be at least six months before the DARE officer could be reassigned from the streets to the classrooms, he said.


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