By Charlene Hoeflich
August 1, 2013
MIDDLEPORT — A new vehicle to haul equipment and clothing used when going out on a drug bust has been provided to Middleport by the Meigs County Commissioners.
Commissioners Randy Smith and Tim Ihle, who met recently with the Middleport officers, described the vehicle as an “old squad” (1992) no longer suitable for use in emergency situations. Since receiving the vehicle, it has been cleaned, painted and equipped with supplies used in dismantling meth operations and the gear they wear to protect themselves from contamination.
Officers Shannon Smith and Rick Smith are both trained in meth dismantling, neutralizing the hazardous material and disposing of it, along with the cleanup work that follows. Having everything they need to do that in one place is a big advantage, the officers said. Shannon and Rick Smith who have had extensive training in drug work, are the only two officers in the county qualified to neutralize hazardous material.
As for the area they serve, the officers said they go “anywhere we’re needed” — Meigs, Gallia, Jackson and Athens — and said this has resulted in trading services among the area agencies which contributes to better and safer communities.
There has been a huge increase in the number of meth operations in the area recently, according to the officers. They attribute that to demand for meth which is relatively inexpensive to make and/or buy, and which is extremely addictive. Meth producers who are caught are charged with a second degree felony and taken into custody at the time of the drug bust, according to the officers.
Commissioner Smith and Ihle both spoke in appreciation of the Middleport officers and their willingness to work on the major drug problem in the county. They commended the Middleport drug unit for being community-minded and commended them for providing aide to other communities which works as a benefit to everyone.
The refurbished truck has compartments for the officers’ special meth protective suits which were donated about a year ago to the Middleport Police Department, the supplies and equipment they use in dismantling and disposing of meth, and adequate seating for use as needed.