INDIANAPOLIS (Sept.17, 2013) –Law enforcement agencies in Carroll and White Counties, along with the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS), are encouraging community members to report incidents of suspected methamphetamine (meth) production and use. These two counties are among those Indiana areas battling a high number of meth users and labs, and the impact this epidemic is having on Hoosier families.
The Indiana State Police reported 17 meth labs were seized in the two counties from Jan. 2012 through June 2013. Tony Lantz, investigator in the White County prosecutor’s office, says meth is that county’s number one drug problem. “We’ve already had 24 meth-related criminal charges filed against several meth users or dealers in the first half of 2013, and that more than doubles the total meth charges filed in 2011 and 2012 combined,” he said. Lantz also emphasized meth isn’t confined to any one age group.
Maj. Tobe Leazenby, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, says meth is an extremely addictive stimulant, and is associated with a high rate of recidivism. He noted several convicted felons recently returned to Carroll County after completing their prison terms only to begin using meth again.
“Even though those former prisoners had been meth-free for several months or a few years, meth’s intense high was such a rush for them, many gave in to temptation and started using it again,” said Maj. Leazenby. “An addict once told me using meth is like having a fish hook stuck in your finger. It just won’t let go. You have to work at it and make severe personal sacrifices to eliminate it from your life.”
Carroll County DCS Director Sarah Sailors says meth use in the home escalates the risk of child abuse and can cause parents to neglect their children’s most basic needs, like safe supervision and general health and hygiene. “Parents who use meth are not actively involved in their kids’ lives. Many times their children five and younger are developmentally delayed because of that neglect and total lack of participation,” said Sailors. “If their children are older, that disconnect can lead to academic delays and difficulty with peer interactions.” Sailors says about 40 percent of Carroll County’s child welfare cases involve meth.
Lantz and Maj. Leazenby both say their departments rely heavily on the support and information local citizens provide about the use and production of meth. "The best way citizens can help our community is to get involved. Do all you can to be our extra sets of eyes and ears. If you see something suspicious, please don’t be complacent about it," said Leazenby.
Lantz emphasized the crucial importance of telling someone about those suspicions. “We would rather have a call that turns out to be nothing than somebody wishing they had called after something tragic happens.”
For immediate action with a meth issue, call 9-1-1. In Carroll County you may also call the 24-hour sheriff’s department dispatch center at 765.564.2413. In White County, call 574.583.7103. In addition, residents of both counties may leave anonymous tips at 800.78CRIME (800.782.7463).
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. White County DCS Director Karen Hayden-Sturgis said DCS looks to neighbors, friends, family members and other community members as first responders to help protect children. Since many times children are victims of neglect when their parents use meth, she offered these tips about observations that could indicate a child is living in a meth home:
· Odors – Strange chemical smells coming from the house.
· Poor hygiene – Child always seems to have disheveled hair, dirty clothes, body odor.
· Lack of supervision – Very young children exposed to dangerous objects or situations.
· Poor health care – Child lacks needed medical/dental care, immunizations, eye glasses.
· 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. It also manages the child support bureau. Indiana Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 800.800.5556. www.in.gov/dcs