Budget Crisis Leads To Meth Mess For Oklahoma Law Enforcement

Monday, February 28th 2011, 4:45 pm
By: News 9

Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A big problem just dropped into the laps of local law enforcement agencies: How to pay for the clean-up of methamphetamine labs.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) was informed last week that effective immediately, the DEA would no longer be able to fund the clean-ups.

The state agency sent a letter to local law enforcement agencies Friday alerting them to the situation. Due to the state's budget crisis, the OSBI had no funding available to pay for the clean-ups either. The funding for meth lab clean-ups was normally available through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS.

"There is no money," said OSBI spokesperson Jessica Brown. "This is a terrible situation."

The news left local sheriffs' departments and police agencies wondering how they could manage meth lab clean-ups without help from the OSBI.

"They also don't have any money allotted in their budgets for this," said Ken McNair, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association. "It's going to be catastrophic for some of these sheriffs' departments. They have no money to do it."

Brown said it costs on average $1,000 for one meth lab clean-up.

In 2010 alone, the DEA paid nearly $600,000 on clandestine lab clean-ups in Oklahoma. But with the federal government shutdown looming and federal budgets being slashed, money for the clean-ups is up in the air.

The state does have a contract with a company called Emergency Management, Inc. to handle cleaning of drug labs. But for now, some sheriffs' departments are holding onto their drug lab evidence until they find a way to pay for the clean-ups.

A meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon between the OSBI, DEA, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, Oklahoma Chiefs of Police Association and Oklahoma Sheriffs Association to discuss a possible solution.