03/14/13 The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department and the Indiana Department of Child Services are encouraging community members to report incidents of suspected methamphetamine production and use. Marshall County is among those Indiana areas battling a high number of meth users and labs, along with a rise in illegal prescription drug use.
The Indiana State Police reported 1,726 meth labs were seized statewide in 2012. There were 388 children found in meth lab environments. Marshall County ranked ninth in the state for most labs seized with 42.
Marshall County Sheriff Thomas Chamberlin says heroin, cocaine and even prescription drug addicts have told him meth, a stimulant, is by far a more powerful drug addiction. “They call it the ‘devil’s liquid.’ Once they try it, their only focus is how to get their next meth high,” he said. “Meth dependency produces an inability to care about the needs of anyone else, especially children. Many of the meth houses are in such disarray and so filthy no one should be allowed to live in them. When we seize a meth lab with children present, it is always one of the most difficult situations for our officers.”
According to the sheriff, it is a relatively simple process to make meth in a 2-liter plastic bottle. But because meth manufacturing requires the use of hazardous chemicals, there’s always a risk of an explosion and/or fire. Chamberlin says his officers sometimes find these one-bottle meth labs hidden in cars stopped for traffic violations and have even found them in backpacks. “Public safety is put at a high risk of being compromised when a backpack is turned into a walking time bomb.”
Marshall County DCS Director Michael Carroll has seen first-hand the devastating effects meth has on families. “Parents that use meth tend to neglect their children’s basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing,” said Carroll. “And if a parent is convicted of a meth felony and is sentenced to jail time, their child may have to be placed with a relative or a foster parent. When meth is mixed with parenting, everyone loses.”
Sheriff Chamberlin says his department relies heavily on the support and information local citizens provide about the use and production of meth. “The best way you can help your community is to be aware of what’s going on in your neighborhood. If you see lots of foot traffic in and out of a residence or if you notice some odd behavior, call and report your suspicions,” said Chamberlin.
Anyone aware of meth activities or illegal drug use in Marshall County should make a report to 574.936.3187. This number is answered 24/7 by a sheriff’s department dispatcher. In addition, callers may leave an anonymous tip on the meth hotline at 800.899.0842.
DCS must also rely on community members to help protect children. In Indiana, all citizens are required to report incidents of child abuse and neglect. Carroll said DCS looks to neighbors, friends, family members and other community members as first responders in helping protect children. Since many times children are victims of neglect when their parents use meth, he offered these tips about observations that could indicate a child is living in a meth home:
Possible signs meth or other illicit drugs may be present in a child’s home:
- Odors – Strange chemical smells coming from the house.
- Poor hygiene – Children that always seem to have disheveled hair, dirty clothes, body odor.
- Lack of supervision – Very young children routinely playing outside late at night.
- Malnourishment – Children knocking on doors asking for food.
- Caregiver duties – Child is taking care of younger siblings or even parents.
Anyone suspecting abuse or neglect should contact the child abuse and neglect hotline at 800.800.5556.
About Indiana Department of Child Services:
DCS is committed to protecting children who are victims of abuse or neglect. The agency’s primary goal is to safely keep these children at home with their families by offering appropriate support services. If safety continues to be a concern, children are placed with relatives or in foster care. DCS also oversees adoptions from the foster care system and manages the child support bureau. The Kids First Trust Fund, supported by the sale of ‘Kids First’ specialty automobile license plates, subsidizes programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect. Indiana Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 800.800.5556 www.in.gov/dcs.