Authorities united in war on meth
Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2011 9:09 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter
By CHRIS MENEES
Obion and Weakley county law enforcement officers are united in the war on the illegal drug methamphetamine.
As a show of unity, about a dozen of the two counties’ top cops gathered this morning for a press conference to support proposed Tennessee legis-lation to control and track pseudoephedrine, a decongestant which is a key ingredient in making meth.
The local law enforcement officials are encouraging state lawmakers to pass legislation that would make pseudoephedrine a schedule drug and would require a prescription to purchase products that contain pseudoephedrine.
Local law enforcement learned last week that federal funding for the cleanup of hazardous methamphetamine labs has run out, leaving them searching for viable options. For over a decade, law enforcement agencies have relied upon grant money from the federal Community Oriented Policing Services to pay for disposal of the toxic, potentially explosive materials used in making meth.
Obion County Sheriff Jer-ry Vastbinder, a member of the Tennessee Meth Task Force board of directors, attended a meeting in Nashville last week to discuss the funding crisis.
The board has already been looking at several different options to help ease the financial burden on cities and counties across the state for meth lab cleanup. He outlined those options at today’s 10 a.m. press conference.
The three options could include utilizing a regional bio-hazard dumpster that would allow law enforcement officers in a certain radius to do their own lab cleanup and take the materials to the dumpster; asking the DEA to adopt any large meth lab cases, which would result in the DEA’s paying for the cleanup out of that agency’s seizure money; or local law enforcement agencies contacting a bio-hazard contract cleanup company and then seeking reimbursement through a federal environmental agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Vastbinder said meth lab cleanups can average from $2,500 to $30,000 and local law enforcement agencies and city governments simply don’t have the funding available. He said the DEA’s funding would likely not go far either and the EPA has already declined being able to offer assistance.
Vastbinder said the best option locally would be the regional bio-hazard dumpster, but it will also include costs associated with providing a secure area.
The law enforcement officials believe the proposed legislation will be a key step in preventing the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Editor’s note: More extensive coverage of the press conference will be included in Friday’s edition.
Published in The Messenger 3.3.11