Meth "epidemic" shifting away from Kennett, Poplar Bluff

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

KENNETT/MALDEN, MO (KAIT) – The Malden Police Department told Region 8 News Friday local pharmacists have experienced a surge in "suspicious" activity. The city of Poplar Bluff passed an ordinance banning the sale of products containing Pseudoephedrine without a prescription. In January, the city of Kennett passed a similar ordinance. Several cities have passed legislation to pressure Missouri to pass a state law.

"I understand they're going to other communities in the area that haven't passed a law yet, but I know they're on board to do the same thing," said Chief Barry Tate with the Kennett Police Department.

Tate said the SEMO Drug Task Force and Bootheel Drug Task Force have targeted suspected meth makers, which helps out smaller police forces.

"It's going to stop the drug problem but as far as locally and helping us smaller departments out it would be great," said Tate. "Methamphetamine is the most obvious thing but we still have our problems with cocaine. I mean it's marijuana. You hardly hear of that anymore because of the meth."

Tate said police in Kennett averaged 5 meth-related arrests in late 2009 each month. Since January, the police department has arrested one person on meth charges. Tate said that proves the ordinance has deterred criminals.

"Wal-Mart was our biggest problem and the pharmacists are telling us out there that there is absolutely nobody coming in, which is good news for us," said Tate. "We wanted to get it done right away because I don't want to be a follower. I want to be a leader and we just want to start something good and hopefully it'll go into other communities, but Jarrett, they've been real busy up there."

City council members and Mayor Roger Wheeler had questioned the ordinance before its approval.

"I told them that this is your chance to step up and to pass this and to help us out there were some questions and they asked a lot of questions but they know in the long run it was a good decision on their part and the city of Kennett is real proud," said Tate.

Tate said he'd like to see the ordinance become state law. Malden Police Chief Jarrett Bullock said such a law would help his police force.

"The Sudafed tables are going off the shelf," said Bullock. "Since the meth epidemic has taken over it when from the standard lab operation is went now to the shake and bake operation."

Bullock said his department has received phone calls about "suspicious" activity regarding methamphetamine, but hasn't had enough manpower to address the issue.

"When you're frustrated and you don't have the manpower to do it, boy is sure is hard. And that's why we decided to do the proactive stings," said Bullock. "We've actually worked it three of four times, got over nine meth related arrests, plus a couple of warrant arrests, so that tells you, these kinds of people may do meth, but they're doing other things too."

"The rule of thumb is, a crook a lot of the time is, they' don't practice in their own backyard. It's too easy to get caught," said Bullock. "Whether its law or it's a common practice, I think what they're saying is, the pharmacies there are accepting the responsibility there to help stop the epidemic."

©2010 KAIT

 All rights reserved.