FLINT TWP. — The township is sticking with its membership in the Flint Area Narcotics Group (FANG) despite more municipal partners pulling out, most recently the City of Flint.
To continue its participation in the multi-jurisdictional drug-fighting organization, the township board recently unanimously approved paying annual dues of $40,972.39.
Flint Township has participated in FANG since its inception in the mid- 1980s, said Township Police Chief George Sippert, in an explanation for new members of the board. Dues are set by an interlocal agreement between communities in Genesee County with support from the Michigan State Police.
“The fact that we have been in FANG so long demonstrates our commitment to fighting the use of drugs,” Chief Sippert said. “It is a county and citywide problem.”
Chief Sippert said that he and Township Supervisor Karyn Miller received monthly reports on FANG activities.
He said that FANG is a group of about 15 to 20 officers who can be counted on for backup when there is a situation in the township.
“If we have a meth lab discovered in Flint Township, often times the cleanup for those can be very expensive,” Chief Sippert said. “As a member of FANG, they cover all of that. We simply call them out.”
Trustee Frank Kasle asked about payback the township has received in the past through FANG drug busts.
Chief Sippert said there are some funds due back that are still be adjudicated. In the past, the drug forfeiture funds have been divided equally among FANG partners.
In 2011, a FANG officer presented the township board with a check for $50,317.08 – its share of proceeds under drug forfeiture laws from a drug bust in February 2009 resulting in seizure of some 1,200 pounds of marijuana and $1.8 million in cash and assets.
Kasle also asked about the financial arrangements for the township officer assigned to FANG. Chief Sippert said that cost is partly covered by a federal grant.
He acknowledged that FANG is running into financial issues due in part to a drop in federal revenues and is having to explore different ways to raise funds.
Also noting the drop in participation, he mentioned that despite the City of Flint pulling out of the group, FANG officers “unfortunately still spend a lot of time in the city of Flint.”
State police have put resources there because drug fighting is a community wide effort.
“Drug dealers don’t honor city limits signs,” he said.
Kasle asked what is the benefit of continuing to pay FANG dues if the service still is available anyway.
Chief Sippert responded that FANG will dissolve if it no longer receives financial support and “we will have to do it on our own.”