The state of Oklahoma is taking its fight against meth to another level after the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics received more than $200,000 in federal grant money to combat the issue.
Oklahoma is one of 10 states to be awarded the grant, from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, as part of an ongoing effort to address a methamphetamine epidemic across the nation.
The money will be used, primarily, for education purposes -- training officers in best methods for tracking meth users, and in handling the children who are forced to live in meth lab environments.
“There is nothing good that comes out of methamphetamine,” said OBN Director Darrell Weaver.
In his 27 years with OGBN, Weaver says he has seen it all. And yet, he says, there is one thing that sticks out in his mind as being particularly bad.
“It lingers with you,” said Weaver, “when you see a child affected firsthand by methamphetamine in our state.”
Although tougher meth laws lowered the number of lab seizures in recent years, from 913 busted in 2011 to 200 last year, Weaver says his agents still see children during their raids.
“We go into these labs, especially the larger ones, with self-contained breathing apparatuses,” said Weaver, “and you may have a child that's breathing these fumes—obviously, that can't be good. And then the mental and psychological impacts of being around the meth business and all of the hideous activity that goes along with it.”
As a result, Weaver plans to use the $217,400 grant to host two Oklahoma drug-endangered children training courses for law enforcement. In addition, the funds are also expected to teach officers additional techniques in the fight against Mexican drug cartels.
“The problem is obviously the meth coming in from Mexico,” noted Weaver, “and we still have a problem with the supply side.”
Still, Weaver says, this grant shows they are taking the problem seriously, and are serious about trying to solve it.
“It's not a reflection, so much, of how bad [the meth problem in] Oklahoma is,” explained Weaver. “It's a reflection of how we want to stay in front of it.”
The training is set to be implemented in 2015.