According to the leaders of the Erwin Police Department and Unicoi County Sheriffs Department, the agencies are more prepared than ever to respond to meth labs discovered in the county.
On Monday, Police Chief Regan Tilson and Sheriff Mike Hensley unveiled the latest tool available to the Unicoi County/Erwin Meth Response Team a trailer equipped with the supplies officers need to dismantle and neutralize meth labs.
Tilson and Hensley said when meth labs are found in the county or town, trained officers are sent to the scene to dismantle and neutralize the lab. The remaining components, while no longer volatile still pose a danger to the public, so an officer is left at the scene until a truck from the Tennessee Meth Task Force arrives to take the lab components for safe disposal. The wait for the truck is typically at least two hours and has been as much as eight hours, the officials said. This wait usually requires the department to pay overtime to the officer who is tasked with waiting at the scene with the inert lab until the truck arrives.
The Tennessee Meth Task Force truck for our area comes out of Hawkins County, Tilson said. The wait is usually two hours if the truck is available. If that truck is unavailable, the next truck is in Knoxville, then the next is in Chattanooga.
There have been instances where they have refused to come to this area because of weather conditions, Tilson continued. That recently happened to another agency in our region.
To solve this issue, Hensley and Tilson decided to share resources to create a trailer where a dismantled meth lab could be safely and securely stored until the task force truck could come to Unicoi County to take it away for safe disposal.
For the remainder of this article please see the March 19, 2014 edition of The Erwin Record.