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Meth Watch is a voluntary retailer and community education program started in Kansas in 2001 with Indiana becoming the 19th state to implement the program. Trooper Cecilia Wylie presented the program basics to the Governor’s Meth Abuse Task Force in July 2004. Based upon the recommendation by the task force members, Meth Watch was written into legislation (SEA 444) that became effective July 1, 2005. Indiana’s program was implemented after a partnership was formed with the Indiana State Police to share a staff member to serve as coordinator.
The key goal of Meth Watch is to build communications, cooperation and partnerships between retailers, communities and law enforcement. It is designed to prevent theft and suspicious sales of products used to manufacture meth by utilizing training and signage.
Meth Watch is funded by two grants, a one time grant from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and a yearly Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant given to the Indiana State Police. Due to the great partnership that was formed with PEN Products from the Department of Correction, we saved a substantial amount of money on the initial roll out of the program and can now build onto our original Meth Watch program.
Indiana is developing a four phase approach to Meth Watch. Phase one involved providing a retailer kit to all retailers that sell any of the products needed to make meth except the anhydrous ammonia. Retailers can choose their level of participation by using everything in the kit or tailor it to their needs. Items contained inside the kit were: store entrance decal, product shelf danglers, cash register decals, posters for employee areas, employee training video, customer informational pads, program brochures and law enforcement suspicious transaction reports.
In October 2005, train the train sessions for phase one were held throughout Indiana training 265 law enforcement officers from 66 agencies, 16 Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Community Consultants and 15 Purdue Extension Agents. Since then, those trainers have gone out and trained additional officers and agencies. On October 12, 2005 Meth Watch was launched and since then over 6,000 kits has been distributed to interested retailers.
Phase two will include Indiana agribusiness communities. We will provide tamper tags and reflective Meth Watch stickers for all anhydrous ammonia tanks. While tags will not stop thieves from stealing the ammonia, it will let farmers know that a tank has been tampered with to allow for additional safety issues and theft reporting which in hopes will aid in increased tank surveillance. In addition, we will also provide a brochure with practical safety tips, warnings signs, and how to respond to suspicious activity.
Phase three will include Indiana communities that are involved in Meth Watch by providing a Meth Watch Community sign to be placed at the entrance of that community. This will tell meth cooks that community members are educated about meth and that the cooks are not welcomed in their town.
Phase four is still in the very initial stage however, it will be providing a community kit to assist in implementing meth prevention initiatives at the local level. The kit will provide items such as statistics, public awareness, treatment, action planning, etc. The goal of the kit is to provide the same information through the state while letting communities tailor it to their area.
Listed below are a few success stories to show that Meth Watch is meeting its goal of building communications, cooperation and partnerships between retailers, communities and law enforcement.
The very first success story came from the Kokomo Police Department the day the program launched. Kokomo P.D. handed out over 60 kits and had no retailer turn them down. The program was made the headline in the local paper the next day. Sgt. Mark Miller of the drug interdiction unit is quoted as saying, “It has been overwhelming successful.” and Capt. Michael Wheeler is also quoted as saying, “The store managers and owners were excited and appeared to have wanted to help.”
A high school student working part-time at JC Food Stores, a Meth Watch participant, in Corydon called the Meth Free Indiana with a tip. Two days later Trooper Katrina Greenwell of Indiana State Police Meth Suppression Section arrested two individuals on eight felony and four misdemeanor drug related charges. Trooper Greenwell stated, “The Indiana Meth Watch Program is working exactly like it is suppose to; and this is a prime example of what it can do.” Since that initial call, that store has called two additional times and investigations are continuing on those tips.
The Soap Dish, an Indiana on-line retailer that supplies candle making items such as lye, is a Meth Watch member. Due to the type of business they are, they could not use most of the Meth Watch products but wanted to do something to be a part of the program. So they called and received permission to post the Meth Watch logo on their website and then distribute the Meth Watch brochures to customers that order from them. Owner Becky Bailey sent this in an email, “We've had a positive response from our customers. A few have even told us that our participation in the Meth Watch program influenced their decision to purchase from us.”
The Meth Watch brochure, one part of the program, has been an overwhelming success. The initial printing was 400,000 and they were distributed in a very short time. Since then we have printed an additional 400,000 and since the middle of March, we have distributed 169,790 to numerous agencies, groups, businesses and individuals throughout Indiana.
For more information on Meth Watch, contact Trooper Cecilia Wylie at 1-877-855-METH (6384) or firstname.lastname@example.org.