A multimillion-dollar U.S. Department of Justice grant seeks to address both methamphetamine use and production and the distribution of heroin and other opioids, and Pennsylvania is getting a piece of the pie.
According to a DOJ news release, the $12 million Community Oriented Policing Services grants will be split between six states, with the Pennsylvania State Police slated to receive more than $486,000 to combat heroin and methamphetamines in the state.
Under the COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Program, according to the release, state police will receive $300,000 “to investigate illicit activities related to the distribution of heroin or unlawful distribution of prescriptive opioids.” The COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program is awarding $186,793 for “dealing with high seizures of precursor chemicals, finished methamphetamine and laboratories.”
“Heroin and opioid abuse is having a devastating impact on nearly every community in the United States,” COPS Director Ronald Davis said in the release. “The grants announced today will contribute to the administration’s overall strategy in combating this horrible epidemic.”
The grants come on the heels of a suspected meth lab bust in Bellefonte Wednesday. Bellefonte police Chief Shawn Weaver said Wednesday that the state police clandestine lab teams have responded to 255 calls for suspected meth labs in the state this year.
The teams responded to 300 labs in 2015, he said.
“We as citizens, educators, police officers, coaches, parents and friends, we need to wake up,” Weaver said. “This is something we don’t want to grab ahold of our community.”
While the county and state at large is facing a serious opioid epidemic, he said, the methamphetamine problem is growing as well. Labs can be found in homes, cars and anywhere someone has the opportunity to mix the chemicals.
The chemicals themselves are easy to get as well, he said, as are the instructions for making meth. Manufacturing the drug is a dangerous act itself with several risk factors.
“Just making one wrong move could cause an explosion,” he said. “There are other hazards than just putting it in your body.”
The use of methamphetamines isn’t just restricted to the “stereotypical, run-down” areas of a community either, he said, indicating the suburban neighborhood setting of Wednesday’s find. Use crosses all socio-economic and racial boundaries, he said.
No charges have yet been filed in Wednesday’s suspected lab incident.
Centre County offers different avenues of help to anyone facing a drug-related situation or emergency.
▪ Centre County Can Help provides 24-hour drug and alcohol hotline services for Centre County through the office of drug and alcohol at 800-643-5432.
▪ Community Help Centre offers counselors and crisis support at 237-5855.
▪ The national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline can be reached 24/7 at 800-662-HELP (4357).