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Governor Bentley Debuts Rural Crime Task Force
Governor Robert Bentley officially announced a new task force today that targets rural crime.
This is the first action of a new law designed to streamline law enforcement.
The theft of a piece of farming equipment can set farmers back hundreds of thousands of dollars and even put them out of business, which is why the governor made this new task force a priority.
It's not just equipment either. Cattle thefts are a big issue for farmers. Once the cows are stolen, farmers rarely get them back.
"Cattle are over a dollar a pound. Momma cows and their calves are worth 11, 12, 15 hundred dollars. If you just lose one, and then the machinery! The machinery is so costly, 40 thousand, 50 thousand, maybe 100," said local cattle owner Bubba Trotman.
All of that farming is big business for Alabama. The governor wanted to start this unit because he says the state shouldn't overlook such an important part of Alabama's economy.
"If you look at agriculture as well as forestry, put them together it's $70 billion in this state. One out of every 4.6 workers in this state works in those fields," said Governor Bentley.
The unit has already been working for about a month. It's made 14 felony arrests and recovered more than a half-million dollars in equipment. Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier says that while that's great, it's not the cure all for every rural crime.
"What we envision this unit being is a supplement to local law enforcement particularly to rural sheriff's offices who have strained resources. So we'll work daily with the law enforcement organizations, particlarly the sheriff's association," said Collier.
There are 10 officers in the task force from several different branches of law enforcement.
Anyone who wants to report a rural crime can call the hotline at 1-855-75 CRIME.