HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A new task force announced Tuesday will aim to address issues surrounding drug use in Huntington as well as dismantle drug trafficking groups in the area.

The Huntington Violent Crime-Drug Task Force is a joint effort between the Huntington Police Department and the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and will consist of members of the police department, one member of the Barboursville Police Department and agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area has dedicated $97,000 annually for training opportunities, information sharing and improving intelligence capabilities.

“The funding does allow our officers who go out there day in and day out battling this problem more hours to do that, and it allows us more personnel actually on the street,” Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial said. “We have invaluable information that we can share with agencies across the country.”

Dial said the program connects local officers to federal offices between Cabell County and Detroit.

“We want to investigate them for crimes they are committing and prosecute them and stop that from escalating into violent crimes,” he added. “The longer folks are here dealing drugs in our neighborhood, eventually that will lead to violence.”

Huntington’s violent crime rate decreased by 21 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year.