A Little History
The Adams and Broomfield Counties problem of drugs and drug related crime continues to be a source of great concern for the community. During the past project year the North Metro Task Force presented numerous school and community presentations at the request of these groups. The Task Force learned through this interaction that the availability of illegal drugs and the manufacturing of drugs in local neighborhoods are in general the highest concern. Informal surveys taken at these presentations reflect that neighborhood drug houses, the availability of drugs to youths and crimes associated with drug use are additional major concerns of the general public. The problem can be attributed to the demand for and the availability of drugs. In the past few years the problem has been exacerbated through the dramatic increase in the availability of methamphetamine. This is primarily due to the ease of manufacturing the drug locally using legally purchased products that contain various precursors, which are converted to produce the illegal drug. Because of this, the availability of methamphetamine is increasing at an alarming rate, as is the number of clandestine drug laboratories.
Between 1996 and 1998 the majority of clandestine drug labs recovered were from proactive enforcement. Starting in 1999 the Task Force noticed police officers were discovering the obvious drug labs while responding to other calls for service such as complaints of a loud party, domestic violence, a disturbance or possible child abuse to name a few. There were concerns that officers might be walking into labs that were not identifiable and risked the possibility of being exposed to hazardous chemicals. Due to the dangers surrounding methamphetamine labs and the high potential for exposure to hazardous materials, the Task Force realized there was a need for education. During 2001 and 2002, the North Metro Task Force has provided a "First Responders Operations Course" to over 1700 patrol officers, fire fighters, building inspectors, and other at risk employees in each city within the counties of Adams and Broomfield. The safety concerns were reduced, but the number of labs located by first responders doubled during the next two years and continues to do so. In 2001, the North Metro Task Force seized 72 methamphetamine labs and 60 year to date in 2002. In 2001, With these labs increasing at an alarming rate, there are several additional concerns to the community. The first being the amount of hazardous waste produced. For every pound of methamphetamine that is manufactured there are six pounds of hazardous waste produced. The manufacturers are not concerned with proper waste disposal therefore they are dumping the waste into the common sewage system, fields, trash cans, along the side of the road and anywhere else they can find. Most manufacturers are not chemists and are often "cooking" while they are high on the drug, which creates another hazard to the community. Flammable liquids are poured over open flames and chemicals that should not be mixed are mixed together producing deadly gases and explosions. Another concern is the effects the drug has on the user. The user becomes extremely irritable and anxious, they have severe mood swings, depression, they are paranoid, have hallucinations and they can be violent or suicidal. Because of the dangers created and the hazardous material generated in the manufacturing process, methamphetamine labs and intelligence reports have become a priority one response for the Task Force. Based upon other states' statistics on methamphetamine lab growth, we are nowhere near peaking out. Through information obtained from schools attended by the detectives in the unit, many experts have said that they figure there are about 10 labs for every one that is recovered.
The North Metro Task Force is the focal point for drug investigations
within Adams County and Broomfield County and as such has set an unwritten
goal of maintaining a highly trained and competent staff. Additionally
in 2001, due to the large increase in methamphetamine drug labs and the
dangers and hazards they create, the North Metro Task Force took on the
responsibility of providing an eight hour first responders safety course
to all participating agencies. In 2001, over 700 people received the training
to include police officers, fire fighters, probation officers, social
workers, building inspectors, city attorneys, victim advocates, environmentalists,
emergency medical technicians, paramedics, code enforcement officers and
animal control officers. The training has been so successful, members
of the Task Force have been asked if they could provide the training to
other agencies across the state.
The North Metro Task Force also worked with the Greater Metro Telecommunications
Consortium and assisted in the production of a 30 minute video tape titled,
"The Hidden Threat: The Rapid Rise in Methamphetamine Labs"
which aired simultaneously on all local cable 8 programming channels on
December 5th, 2001. This was an effort to educate citizens in every community
about the hazards and dangers of methamphetamine drug labs. The Task Force
has received several calls in reference to the video and to date over
100 additional copies have been made and distributed around the state.
The Task Force has developed a great working relationship with the local
media stations in an effort to educate the citizens on the drug enforcement
activities in our community. The Task Force has raised public awareness
on the dangers of methamphetamine labs in an effort to pass new laws and
assist with the prosecution of those who manufacture methamphetamine.
Governor Owens office recently contacted the Task Force and asked for
assistance in setting up displays and being a part of a news conference
announcing new legislative bills geared towards addressing methamphetamine
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