By Aaron Malin
The Clay County Drug Task Force (also known as the Clay County Investigative Squad) is one of 23 state and federally funded drug task forces in Missouri, comprised of 13 different law enforcement entities. Last year the state of Missouri handed them a lump sum of $286,225.75 and told them to use the funds to fight the war on drugs. That money came with no guidelines, no priorities, and no direction- just a six-figure grant to add a few foot soldiers around the margins of the front lines of the drug war. As is the case with all 23 drug task forces across Missouri, that lump sum of cash came with just six rules (laws).
These are the laws that must be followed for a drug task force to remain eligible for their six-figure grant. If they don’t follow the rules, and that becomes publicly known, the Clay County Drug Task Force could (and should) lose all of their grant funding.
Bad news. During a public meeting a board member, meeting minutes show Chief Mike Hasty (yes, that is his real name), openly bragged about drug task force assistance in a recent homicide investigation. Another board member-Captain Ron Jackson-explicitly encouraged officers to refer non-drug cases to the task force, even claiming that they are “not just the ‘drug squad.'”
This is an explicit admission that the Clay County Drug Task Force (also known as the Clay County Investigative Squad) failed to “limit its target operation to the enforcement of drug laws” as is required by RSMo 195.509.2(4). Even more than that it shows that board members of the drug task force were openly encouraging misuse of the task force for unintended (and unlawful) purposes.
The publication of this information (obtained through a Sunshine Law request) should force law enforcement officials in Clay County to answer some tough questions. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to justify a continuation of their grant funding from the state after an explicit admission that they blatantly flout the laws governing their grant eligibility.
In retrospect, it’s no wonder they needed to discuss the Sunshine Law request that lead to this discovery in an official drug task force board meeting. They were concerned- and for good reason. The jig is up.