Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:04PM - 320 Views
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Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Approximately 12 years ago, when crystal meth began showing up in Scioto County at alarming proportions, area law enforcement officers were trained by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation & Identification (BCI&I) in methods of recognizing and handling of meth labs. At that time, the training was limited to simply recognizing the signs of an active meth lab and methods of securing the scene. Back then local law enforcement would request assistance from BCI&I’s Clandestine Lab Unit who would respond to the scene to dismantle and neutralize the chemicals used in active meth labs. Local law enforcement would then be required to wait, sometimes six hours or more for the arrival of a certified company whose expertise was to dispose of the hazardous materials and who were sub-contracted by the Drug Enforcement Agency to perform the function of disposing of hazardous waste from the discovery of meth labs throughout Ohio.

Over the last 12 years or so, many of the suspects involved in manufacturing methamphetamine have been arrested, convicted and have completed serving their sentences in prison and have been released back into our communities and have now resumed their “homemade” manufacturing of meth. Recently, the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office requested the assistance of a certified company to dispose of materials recovered from a meth lab and paid nearly $1,000.

With the reappearance of the production of meth in Scioto County and throughout the country, local law enforcement have been confronted with newer methods of producing meth which include the “One Pot” meth lab along with the dilemma of limited financial resources in cleaning up meth labs. DEA has since ceased paying the cost associated with the task of cleaning up meth labs and locally, the law enforcement agency has been forced to assume the financial responsibility of actually paying the cost of disposing of the hazardous materials.

It is because of scenarios such as that one that prompted a training session Thursday evening at the Portsmouth Police Department firing range, located off Bertha Avenue in Portsmouth. Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said the training was conducted by BCI&I, and involved officers assigned to the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force. The training will provide the officers with the ability to actually recognize, dismantle and dispose of the hazardous materials without assistance from the BCI&I’s Clandestine Lab Unit and without being dependent upon some certified company to dispose of the hazardous materials at an extravagant cost.

“I personally witnessed this training, which in simple terms included the actual production of a ‘one pot’ meth lab then the dismantling and process of neutralizing of the volatile chemicals used in in the manufacturing of the meth lab,” Donini said. “This was really a neat way of training the narcotics officers in dealing with these labs. They actually witnessed and experienced all the steps along with the hazards associated with the manufacturing of this drug as done by our local drug dealers and addicts along with the additional step of neutralizing the explosive chemicals and the disposal methods in accordance with EPA and OSHA standards which in reality, is what we use to pay thousands of dollars for when hiring a certified hazardous waste company. This training was real. In my opinion, this training was priceless and provided knowledge for our local law enforcement officers and knowledge builds confidence in dealing with these issues”.

Due to the inherent dangers associated with the methamphetamine manufacturing process and the “hands-on” scenario based training that was required, Donini thanked the Portsmouth Fire Department for participating in the training and being prepared for any potential danger that was associated with the training.

“By witnessing the entire process through this training session, I now have a more accurate and thorough view and greater respect of the issues facing our local law enforcement officers when dealing with these mobile meth labs,” Donini said. “These task force officers put their lives on the line everyday protecting our community. I feel it is my responsibility as sheriff to provide them with the best training and equipment available to perform their duties. This training will allow them to be knowledgeable and at the same time be safe.”

Donini said anyone wishing to leave drug information for the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force, may contact the Sheriff’s Office drug line at 740-351-1094, the Portsmouth Police Department. drug line at 740-354-DRUG (3784) or email drugs@sciotocountysheriff.com. All information will be kept confidential and anonymous.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com.

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