The Huron Undercover Narcotics Team knows there are groups of individuals in Northeastern Michigan who are producing methamphetamine and expect to encounter it more often in the area as time passes.
That is why the special law enforcement operations team is focusing some of its attention on educating the community on the signs that there may be a lab operating and what to do if one is stumbled upon.
Commander Frank Keck said the meth problem continues to spread across the state, and Northeast Michigan is not immune from it becoming more prominent here. He said the team has noticed a change in the size of the labs, which he said are becoming more portable and easier to conceal.
"It used to be that we would see much larger labs than what law enforcement sees now," Keck said. "No matter what the size is they still contain a high degree of danger for fire, chemical toxins and other hazards. I think because we are somewhat isolated we have been somewhat lucky so far, but meth is clearly here now."
Keck said HUNT has been working to help train other law enforcement agencies to help them be able to recognize the signs that a lab may be in operation. He said it is also working with local public awareness training, so members of the community can help locate and have the lab disassembled and the criminals arrested.
"We have been doing a lot of presentations for police, fire, EMS and civic groups to help them see what may be out there," Keck said. "We have been successful, but to employ the public to help is very important. I think we will see a spike in meth arrests once more people get educated, because they will know what they are looking for and be able to see the signs that are there for a lab, or someone who is a user."
Keck said it is important to note that if a member of the community finds a lab, or suspects one may be in operation that they stay clear of it because of the dangers associated with them. He said the first thing to do is call the police or 911 so the lab can be contained by professionals.
"The fire hazard is really pretty high, so if you come across one stay away and contact the authorities," Keck said. "Even if it turns out to be nothing, that is ok. We would rather come and evaluate the situation and have it be nothing, than to have someone get hurt or killed because it was something. We don't want to take any chances."
Keck said HUNT is available to do presentations about meth and the labs. He said if there are groups that do roadside clean up projects or others who are interested, they can contact him to schedule a presentation.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.