Pubdate: Sat, 07 May 2005
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
170 .xml
Copyright: 2005 The Huntsville Times
Author: Wendy Reeves
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Attorney General Starts Program To Stop Meth

Alabama Attorney General Troy King says he is trying to do his part in the 
fight against the state's fastest-growing drug problem, methamphetamine. 
And he's asked a Huntsville woman to help.

Deborah Soule, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug Free 
Community, is part of a 27-member statewide Methamphetamine Task Force. 
King created the task force to search for ways to slow and reverse the 
spread of methamphetamine, identify additional tools needed to help fight 
the drug and come up with standard methods for handling children found at 
meth lab sites.

Soule said King asked her to participate after he attended the "Merchants 
Against Meth" training forum held here last month. The task force held its 
first meeting in Montgomery last week.

Methamphetamine presents many challenges.

The task force has split into several committees to come up with new ideas 
to better address the exploding problem.

In Huntsville and Madison County, officials raided at least 60 meth labs in 
2004. Of those, at least 35 were seized by the Huntsville-Madison County 
Strategic Counterdrug Team. The unit found 15 in 2003 and two in 2002.

Another 25 meth labs were found and seized in 2004 by the Sheriff's 
Department's Vice and Narcotics Unit, compared to 15 in 2003.

Because of her work with local law enforcement, Soule signed up for the 
attorney general's law enforcement and education committees on the new task 
force. She will share information on how the Huntsville area is benefiting 
from a law enforcement coalition that works closely with the Partnership 
for a Drug Free Community.

Coalition members include Huntsville, Madison and Alabama A&M University's 
police departments, Madison County Sheriff's Office, HEMSI ambulance 
service, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Alabama 
Cooperative Extension Office.

Soule said the members spoke at 27 educational forums about methamphetamine 
in the past year.

It's made a difference, said Jim Winn, commander of the counterdrug team.

Sometimes illegal labs are found by chance. But Winn said the public 
awareness and different programs to educate area residents has paid off for 
local drug agents.

Promoting a Web address for residents to anonymously report possible meth 
labs has resulted in several meth lab finds, Winn said.

Store managers call police when they see people buying large amounts of 
ingredients that might be related to meth production, he said. People 
recognize signs and smells of a possible lab in their neighborhood and 
report it.

"It works here and I'd like to show others around the state how important 
it is to get the community behind law enforcement, especially with a 
problem like meth," said Soule.

On the education committee, Soule said she will review a meth curriculum 
for ninth-graders to see if it can be integrated into awareness programs in 
city and county schools.

The group will also look for other ways to educate state residents about 
the dangers of the highly addictive drug.
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