Police Department Offers To Test People's Meth For Zika Virus
The Gratis, Ohio, Police Department released a warning and an offer on Facebook Monday. The warning: "If you have recently purchased Meth in Preble, Montgomery, Darke or Butler Counties it may be contaminated with the Zika Virus," officials wrote.
The offer: "Please bring it to the Gratis Police Department and we will test it for free." It continues, "If you're not comfortable coming into our office, please contact us and we'll test your Meth in the privacy of your home."
The police department's post got over 6,000 shares in nearly two days, but also sparked many questions about the unusual message.
Then underneath the first paragraph, a disclaimer that undermines the whole premise: "methamphetamine can't be a host for the Zika virus."
The reality is, the Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito. As the Gratis Police Department admits in their post, meth cannot be a host for Zika. So why did they write this now-viral post?
"Make a catchy post, people see it, people share it," Assistant Police Chief Dennis Blankenship said, according to WTHI.
Meth usage has spiked in the rural community, according to law enforcement. The police department wanted to use Facebook as a platform for help. The call to action for people to turn over their meth was the real purpose behind the Zika contamination claim. It was a false advertisement, but one Blankenship thinks is important.
"I have no intention on arresting anyone this way," Blankenship said. "My goal is not to throw someone in jail over this. I hope to use it to start those in need to seek treatment."
Though he may have had good intentions, WTHI reports no one has taken him up on the offer so far.
Blankenship plans to edit the post, adding rehab facilities in the area and different ways to get treatment. "A lot of places are super-hard on drug addicts," he said. "We want to offer help."
"Our job as a police department, not only toss people in jail, it's to protect people and help change people minds."