Audit Unveils Opioid Funds Denied Over ‘Defund Police’ Stance

Trump’s team is under fire this week—but not for any of his impending court cases. This issue dates back to his time in office, a 2020 controversy that’s just been uncovered in an audit. Interested in learning more? Read on.

The Ongoing Battle Against Opioid Abuse

Trump’s administration oversaw a lot of obstacles. COVID-19, riots, trade issues, economic worries, and foreign policy tensions were all part of the package. 

But there was also the war on drugs, predominantly the opioid crisis that was (and still is) tearing through the nation.

In 2020, Trump’s administration released funding to bolster a 2016 act that focused on addiction and recovery, expanding the bill to what we now know as the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP). This was a federal grant that cities could apply for, which would release funding for them to use as they saw fit to combat any drug-related crises.

Minnesota’s Opioid Epidemic

Now, in 2020, deaths in Minnesota were skyrocketing. Opioid overdose was an all too common occurrence, and in the period between 2019 and 2021, these types of deaths more than doubled, according to data.

Minneapolis, struggling with the brunt of this overdose crisis, applied for $900,000 in federal funding from the government alongside 212 other groups. 

The city’s application received the second-highest peer review score of the 212 applications, indicating that it was in dire need of funding.

Minneapolis’ Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Project

The city was planning on using the almost $1 million figure for a three-year Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) project that they hoped would reduce overdoses. The plan was meant to emulate Seattle’s LEAD program, which has reduced the burden on the police force and the corrections system with lower reoffending rates and lower odds of felony charges for any drug users.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) distributed almost $150 million to 110 applicants out of the 212; however, Minneapolis was not one of them. At the time, it wasn’t known why the city, which by all indications should have been second in line for funding, was left out.

However, new reports coming from Minneapolis have revealed that it was due to council members’ positive stance on defunding the police. 

Defunding Debate

A newly released Department of Justice inspector general audit has found that after nine of the city’s thirteen council members publicly supported defunding the police, their application for COSSAP funding was rejected.

Minneapolis submitted its application four days before the murder of George Floyd, which caused riots across the U.S., and council members made their statement as their application was being reviewed.

At the time, the Bureau of Justice Assistance sent a memo to the Office of Justice Programs explaining why Minneapolis had been excluded, citing “statements of governing officials and recent news reports”.

The memo stated, “The BJA [Acting] Director is extremely concerned that Minneapolis officials do not understand the impact of defunding their police and does not believe that this law enforcement grant can be properly administered without a vibrant, fully funded police department.”

BJA’s Flawed Decision-Making Process

The Department of Justice’s audit states, “The Process BJA Used to Reach its Decision for the Minneapolis Application was Seriously Flawed.” It goes on to state that “BJA’s stated justification for its decision contained critical errors and omissions that we believe rendered the justification inadequate.”

The audit also notes that “BJA only applied this preference to Minneapolis and did not evaluate any other applicants based on whether they supported the “defund the police” movement and for any associated risks.” It goes on to list a number of other cities that had received substantial funding despite their support for defunding the police.

The news of this audit’s finding has raised serious eyebrows. A Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health spokesperson stated that it “is kind of shocking” and called it “almost unheard of.”

Opioid overdoses in Minnesota are at an all-time high, up 43% between 2020 and 2022, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health. Whether this new audit will have any blowback on Trump’s presidential run remains to be seen.

The post Audit Unveils Opioid Funds Denied Over ‘Defund Police’ Stance first appeared on Swift Feed.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff.

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