CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The problems associated with methamphetamine are one of the biggest issues facing law enforcement today. The number of labs in West Virginia is growing and the ability to get rid of them is being swallowed up with a lack of funding and manpower.
“We don’t have the manpower to go out and just search for meth labs,” said State Police First Sergeant Mike Smith on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline. “Most of these labs we’re finding on domestics, child abuse and neglect, those kinds of things. We’re responding to the labs as they get reported or we stumble across them.”
Smith said the problem is grown faster than law enforcement in West Virginia can keep up and the legislature will have a decision to make either in the coming session or in future years.
“Either they’re going to have to control pseudoephedrine, which is the one ingredient which allows meth to be produced,” he said. “Or they’re going to have to come up with a funding source so we can equip everyone and go after these labs and possibly more manpower.”
Corporal Jason Crane said he’d visited hundreds of meth lab sites in West Virginia. He said in most cases, officers are ill-equipped to handle the danger they’re walking into.
“We really are hurting on the equipment side,” he said. “We really need to address our current status of our equipment and get our members and other law enforcement agencies throughout the state properly equipped.”
Smith and Crane said meth has become the top drug of choice in West Virginia and it’s fueled by the addiction. The meth addiction is the most gripping of all drug addictions and it’s driving normal people to do crazy things to get the drug. Labs are found in homes, motels, storage units, even in cars and backpacks.
Smith and Crane are among those calling on lawmakers to make the pseudoephedrine products prescription only. A bill, which would take the step, is due to be introduced in the 2013 session.
“I think everybody’s concern is, ‘Why should they be penalized because somebody else is cooking meth?’” said Smith. “It’s a little bit of a scare tactic because from physicians I’ve spoken with there’s still like 30 over-the-counter medicines it would not affect.”
The two said on MetroNews Talkline the tips for meth labs are becoming more and more common. People are actually reporting them by coming to the State Police detachment, but are fearful of retaliation. However, they add people are becoming fed up and are starting to help in their war to eradicate the growing problem.