FLORIDA NEEDS A MORE COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO FIGHTING METH
A message from Tom Gallagher, Florida's State Fire Marshal
Methamphetamine, or “meth,” may be the most destructive drug ever to hit Florida.
It destroys the mental and physical health of the user and robs them of all motivation except to get or make more of the drug. As a result, it poses a tremendous safety and health risk to our communities.
The process used to make meth is volatile and the chemicals are deadly to both the user and innocent bystanders, which too often are children.
Detectives with the Division of State Fire Marshal have already responded to more than 30 meth lab fires and explosions in recent months and needed medical treatment from exposure to meth fumes and chemicals.
As we began responding to more of these incidents, we recognized the need for specialized training for law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders. This spring, we initiated several meth training programs and are continuing to get requests for more.
In response to this rapidly growing problem, I have proposed an expanded, comprehensive strategy to combat meth, including:
• Creation of a Meth Strike Force: This strike force will assist in response, cleanup and disposal of clandestine meth labs and provide assistance to families destroyed by meth.
• Tougher penalties for meth-related crimes: Upon posting bond, meth manufacturers often return to their labs and start producing again. Bond should be denied for meth producers, both to stop the revolving door and give them an opportunity to get the treatment they need to get off the drug.
• Creation of a Restoring Lives Trust Fund: This fund would provide matching funds for private charities and ministries that collect funds to assist meth users and their children.
I also am proposing penalties for property owners who knowingly fail to disclose that a meth lab was previously found on the premises. Citizens must be made aware of the possible risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, especially if they have children.
I also want to pursue heightened penalties for injuries to any first responders because of exposure to a meth lab. Legislation, sponsored by Representative Greg Evers, passed this year and enhanced penalties for meth producers who injure a law enforcement officer, but it did not extend to firefighters and other first responders who are also often called to respond to a meth lab.
The new courthouse in Indian River County, is named for the scenic body of water running between the barrier islands and the mainland along Florida's Treasure Coast. America's first National Wildlife Refuge was established on Pelican Island in the Indian River by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.