By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
The Hanceville City Police Department recently pulled an officer working with a countywide drug task force back to the city’s force, citing the need for an additional officer and a lack of manpower and funds. The officer was Hanceville’s only member of CNET.
The Cullman Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) is comprised of officers from the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office and Cullman City Police, and tackle the larger drug cases across the city and county. Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail said when he took office, they added their first officer to CNET to represent Hanceville, but because of their current budget, they had to bring him back.
“Unfortunately we had to pull the guy from CNET, but we are still working some drug-related cases here, made some arrests yesterday,” Nail said. “It just got to the point that we had to pull our guy back to have the basics done. There’s no way you can get that done with one guy per shift. When our revenue starts coming back, I’d love to put the officer back into CNET.”
Nail said Hanceville service’s are growing much faster than the revenue that is being produced, which is creating some growing pains across the city.
“Hanceville is very dynamic, hosting a college campus and a tourist attraction-being close to the Shrine, which causes an extra demand for police,” Nail said. “So on top of doing daily calls, the police have to respond to the other stuff in our jurisdiction. Hanceville is just made up differently and can’t really be compared to other places. The council is having to make some tough decisions to either cut services or find a way to bring in revenue. The public expects that when they make a 911 call, a police officer needs to arrive fairly quick, especially in our small town, so we can’t afford to not have all of our guys right now.”
Director of CNET Joey Cone said losing his 7th officer has hurt the team, but he understands the financial struggle.
“He was a great asset to the group, giving us an extra person to do our daily duties, so pulling him out hurt us,” Cone said. “I understand they have budget restraints. Shortly after Mayor Nail took office was the first time that CNET had a Hanceville officer.”
Cone said they will be unable to replace the officer with another county or city officer, leaving them with a team of six men — three from the city and three from the county.
“One man made a big difference,” Cone said. “Last year we had almost 600 cases and we don’t have the extra manpower to go out and do what we were doing. I understand that Hanceville is hurting, but we all are.”
* Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 270.