A proposal to spend more state money to fight drug trafficking on New Hampshire’s highways unanimously cleared the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday. But estimating how much that effort will cost – is no simple task.
As written the bill calls for $4.5 million in spending.
A quarter of that money - just over a million dollars - would go to hire five additional state troopers focused on drug interdiction. Another chunk would cover overtime costs at the state narcotics and investigations unit, and the state drug lab.
But Sarah Blodgett, head of the New Hampshire Judicial Council, says these calculations do not account for the cost of litigating what could be nearly 1,000 new drug cases per year.
“Currently the public defender’s office, which handles 85 percent of the [indigent] caseload, has caseloads of about 272 per person – they could not handle this huge influx of cases with their current staffing levels,” Blodgett told lawmakers, adding that each of these so-called drug interdiction troopers make about 4 arrests per week. The state currently has four drug interdiction troopers.
There’s also money in the bill for the state’s “Granite Hammer Program,” which aims to arrest drug dealers through cross agency collaboration.