Congressman Brad Carson's bill to boost methamphetamine battle

Tuesday, July 30th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ An Oklahoma congressman's proposal to give rural law enforcement a boost would help the state wage its battle against methamphetamine.

Rep. Brad Carson, D-Okla., said the focus of his legislation would be providing grants to local law enforcement agencies to hire, train and retain officers.

Money also would be provided to help rural communities acquire technology and equipment and develop 911 services.

``Oklahoma is faced with a methamphetamine epidemic,'' Carson said . ``Every sheriff I have spoken with since taking office has told me the overwhelming majority of everyone in his or her jail are there for a drug-related crime.''

Carson said his measure would cost $172 million.

One provision would set aside 10 percent of the funding for tribal law enforcement.

Carson's legislation also would create a Rural Policing Institute to train rural law enforcement agencies.

``As I have traveled eastern Oklahoma and met with sheriffs and police chiefs, I have constantly heard the same concerns _ a lack of funding, a need for new equipment, and difficulties in recruiting and retraining officers,'' he said.

Carson is a member of the Congressional Methamphetamine Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers working on legislation to help fight the drug.

``Methamphetamine is unlike other drugs because it has a direct impact on each community in our state,'' he said.

``For every one pound of methamphetamine that is cooked, five pounds of toxic waste is produced. This toxic waste is finding its way into our groundwater, our lakes and streams, and in our soil.''

Often, he said, meth labs are booby-trapped with explosives, and they also are dangerous because they are filled with toxic gas, which can explode.

Carson's bill authorizes an expansion of the Methamphetamine Hot Spots Program to assist in not only the prosecution of meth cases but the cleanup of the labs.

It also increases funding for treatment programs and creates a grant program for community-driven education programs.