Pubdate: Tue, 21 Dec 2004
Source: Manchester Times (TN)
Copyright: Manchester Times 2004
Author: Wayne Thomas
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Youth)


The use and production of methamphetamines continues to be a problem here 
in Franklin County.

According to figures released by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Franklin 
County is now ranked second in the State of Tennessee in the production of 
the drug. In addition to the usage of the drug being a problem, many other 
factors need to be considered that cost taxpayers more and more each year. 
Sheriff Mike Foster recently stated that Franklin County currently spends 
between $5 and $7-thousand each month for prescription drugs for inmates. 
"Three-fourths of that is for those who have been arrested on 
methamphetamines charges," Foster stated. The sheriff explained that the 
prescriptions have to be paid for by the taxpayers of Franklin County. "We 
get the medicine at a reduced price but it still is expensive." Foster said 
that of the 120 inmates who are housed in the Franklin County Jail on a 
daily basis, 70 to 90 percent are there on drug related charges. "Some are 
arrested for the possession of the actual drug while others are here [in 
jail] on charges of domestic violence, burglary or some kind of theft due 
to methamphetamines related use," Foster said.

Franklin County Chief Deputy Tim Fuller said that those who have been 
arrested on methamphetamine charges usually suffer from problems such as 
extensive weight loss, dental problems, and respiratory ailments. "That 
means they have to be given medication to help them to correct the 
problem," Fuller said.

"They tend to be violent and irrational when they first are taken into 
custody," Fuller said. "So we have to give them something to help calm them 
down." He noted that users are "paranoid due to the loss of sleep." Fuller 
stated that often times they are so paranoid that they tell officers that 
they have seen investigators sitting in a tree outside their houses for 
days. "When we haven't even been near their house," Fuller said. "If they 
don't get out on bond right away they will crash and sleep often times for 
several days," Foster said.

"Each deputy who works in the confiscation of meth labs has to receive a 
physical each year that cost a total of $18,500," Fuller said. "Those exams 
include examination of their kidneys, respiratory system liver." The chief 
deputy explained that the reason for the in depth physical is due to no one 
really knowing the long term effects associated with the handling of the 
chemicals. "That way if they develop a problem ten years down the road that 
is connected then workmen's compensation insurance will cover them," Fuller 
explained. Fuller pointed out that in California some officers who have 
worked with the chemicals have suffered serious health problems.

Both lawmen noted that the average meth lab cost approximately $3,000 to 
clean up. In addition to the cost of the actual cleanup, some $1,000 in 
overtime is paid for deputies who assist when a lab is found. Foster noted 
that the federal government eventually reimburses the county for the 
deputies' overtime. "If the federal government didn't reimburse law 
enforcement for the overtime, no government agency would be able to cleanup 
where a lab had been operated," Fuller said.

Fuller noted that there is also an added expense when a lab is found where 
children live. "The Tennessee Department of Children Services, has to be 
notified and they have to remove the children and take them to the hospital 
to be checked out," Fuller said.

The chief deputy concluded by saying that the meth problem is a social 
issue and "it effects us all in some way or another."
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