Students get overview of drug task force work

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, January 18, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

CLANTON — Chilton County High School students in Robin Traywick’s forensics class learned about how law enforcement responds to drug-related calls and the harmful effects of drug abuse during a presentation by the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 17.

Frank Davis of the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force said meth and heroin are the biggest concerns here. However, marijuana also accounts for about a dozen drug-related arrests each month. Each of these drugs causes long-term damage to the brain, Davis said.

“Heroin is getting big here,” Davis said.

Meth can be especially dangerous, not just for the user, but to those around them because it’s the chemical makeup. Davis said many safety precautions have to be taken testing for and seizing drugs.

“Anytime we go into a meth house, a meth lab or a dope house, we have respirators that we wear we have air packs we wear, just like the firefighters,” Davis said.

He stressed that law enforcement always wears long sleeves and rubber gloves for protection when gathering evidence on a drug case.

Law enforcement also keeps a log of any exposure they have to drugs during a call.

With changes in how meth users are producing the drug, safety concerns have risen. Davis said some will shake up the compound while driving, then throw the bottle out the window when finished using. Davis said the bottle can explode while the user is creating the drug. It also creates hazardous conditions in the area where the bottle is disposed of.

“It’s very toxic,” Davis said.

The drug task force has different kits to test for different drugs. Davis said field tests can be done for many of these substances. When officers are not sure, the substance is collected and then tested later.

Traywick said some are under the false in impression that marijuana “is an herb and it’s non- addictive.”

“I don’t know a pothead one that has good credit [or] a good job,” Traywick said.

Davis said those who use this drug have a marked lack of motivation.

Synthetic drugs, such fentanyl, are also very dangerous.

“What is so dangerous to people and to law enforcement is it’s a powder. If you breathe it in, it really has some extreme effects on the body,” Davis said.

Any drug created to mimic an illegal drug is also illegal under Alabama law.

“They could change the compound a thousand times, but if it imitates marijuana or it imitates cocaine … it is illegal in the state of Alabama,” Davis said.

These laws have helped decrease synthetic drugs being sold at small stores.

“They sold it under the premise of potpourri, not for human consumption,” Davis said.

The dangers of taking drugs intravenously were also outlined. Davis said if a drug user misses a vein and shoots it into the muscle it causes decay and staph infections.

With school presentations, Davis said the department focuses on giving information without creating interest.