The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, in partnership with Sault Ste. Marie and Area Drug Strategy Committee and Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District CrimeStoppers organizations, announced the launch of the Meth Watch Program in Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday morning.
The Meth Watch program is designed to promote cooperation between retailers, members of the public and law enforcement to help disrupt the illicit production of crystal meth in the Sault by helping to raise awareness and educate community members about what items are used to make crystal meth and how anyone can report suspicious activity or purchases to police.
Crystal methamphetamine is a highly addictive substance that can cause a variety of life threatening health conditions such as:
- dangerously high body temperatures; and
- cardiac arrhythmia.
Crystal meth can often be made by using common household products that are available at retail outlets. Some of these items may be suspicious if purchased in large quantities and can include, but aren’t limited to;
- Over the counter cough/cold and allergy medicines containing ephedrine,
- Rubbing alcohol,
- Starter fluid (ether),
- Drain cleaner,
- Lithium batteries,
- Paint thinner; and,
- Aluminum foil
Drug Strategy Committee Community Consultant George Wright told SaultOnline that Meth Watch actually started in Ottawa and Vancouver, but has started rolling out in other communities since. After contacting them, the Drug Strategy Committee took their information and tweaked it to fit local needs. They developed a process to get this information into the hands of businesses that sell these products and make them aware of this issue, while also narrowing down the areas where meth might be produced in the community.
“What it does is it raises awareness that it’s common, everyday items that can be used to make it, and if you see that happening, where people are buying large quantities of items together at the same time, you can say ‘I’m concerned, you might want to look into this,'” he said, adding that it’s okay if people don’t want to get involved, as long as the information is out there and people are aware of the risks.
“We’re really happy that it’s finally come to fruition,” said Drug Strategy Committee Co-Chair Allison McFarlane, who’s a Public Health Nurse at Algoma Public Health. “We want to protect the entire community, but we also want to protect people that are using crystal meth as well as people that are making it – there’s risks of fire, explosion, things like that, but then there’s also extreme risks when people are using it as well.”
SSMPS Investigator Brent Duguay said he thinks it’s important to educate the public on this growing issue not only here in the Sault, but across Canada and the U.S. and to make them aware of what’s potentially going on around them.
Kendra Addison, the CrimeStoppers Coordinator for SSM and Algoma District, said their involvement in the program is mainly to educate the public and to collect tip information on crimes that are about to occur or that have already occurred, as well as information on suspicious activity.
“With educating the public, we’re hoping that we can reduce the cases of meth being produced here in Sault Ste. Marie,” she said.
CrimeStopppers accepts anonymous tips on their tip line at 705-942-7867 or 1-800-222-847, through their phone app, P3, or by clicking here.