September 29, 2013

OUR VIEW: LPD wages new fight in meth war


---- — In 2008, the Logansport Police Department busted nine methamphetamine labs in the city. The number has risen every year since then, except for a drop in 2011.

So far this year, the department has found 18 labs. That’s already double the 2008 number, and we have still have three months to go to close out the year. Clearly, meth is a problem.

Cass County ranks 17th in the state for numbers of meth labs discovered, seized and dismantled.

The fallout of the growing meth production can easily be seen. If nothing else, just open the paper. Barely a day goes by that we don’t publish a meth arrest in the police reports.

Clearly, it’s not a problem that’s going away anytime soon, and LPD knows that. The department has formed a Meth Suppression Unit to fight the scourge on our city known as meth.

The unit will consist of four officers who will conduct investigations regarding meth-related offenses by following up on citizen complaints and maintaining communication with local pharmacies, hardware stores and other related businesses that sell items that can be used to manufacture meth.

The war on drugs isn’t a new battle for LPD. Earlier this year, we reported on local law enforcement agencies teaming up with the Indiana Department of Child Services to crack down on drug use in households with children. That effort came about because a growing number of children were found to be living around the site of drug activity. Living in these environments exposes them to danger due to the drugs and the chemicals, which have led to explosions.

The Meth Suppression Unit, however, is a new way of fighting in this war. A big part of the new strategy is communication. Without the public’s help, there’s only so much this new unit will be able to accomplish. That’s why Police Chief Mike Clark is asking the public to be the department’s eyes and ears.

“We can’t be everywhere at once,” he told us.

By opening the lines of communication with the public and the businesses that sell precursors, the department can learn the whereabouts of the meth labs and who’s operating them. You can’t shut something down if you can’t find it. These labs are what’s fueling the problem and must be eradicated.

The Legislature has tried to hinder meth production by limiting access to pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the manufacture of meth. But many makers have skirted the system with “smurfs,” or groups of people who collect pseudoephedrine from multiple stores to supply a single cooker. As more limitations are put on the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased, these smurf groups continue to grow.

The innovation of meth makers has hindered efforts to stop the spread, but we feel the forward-thinking actions of LPD will serve the city well in solving the problem. But it won’t be cheap.

Police officials say the new unit will require a “very large” financial commitment to accommodate for the overtime and attainment of new investigative tools like vehicles, uniforms and surveillance equipment.

It’s a commitment we need to make.