As the number of methamphetamine labs continues to grow, more training is needed for stopping the escalating drug problem.
Instructors from Network Environmental Systems, Inc. of California are at the West Virginia State Police Academy this week training law enforcement officers from throughout the state on the proper procedures for dissecting and processing meth labs.
NES is a professional environmental health and safety training and consulting company. The classes are being funded through a Criminal Justice grant.
Sgt. M.T. Smith, of the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said the meth problem has steadily increased throughout the state as more people have learned to make the drug quickly with materials that are readily available.
"They have learned how to cook it in one pot in one hour," he said. "It once took a whole day. A whole lot of people have been educated on how to cook it and it has been catching on."
As a result, law enforcement officers are spending lots of time dealing with the problem that is dangerous as well as expensive.
Undergoing this week's training sessions are 39 police officers from throughout West Virginia. Of these 15 are state troopers and the rest are city and county law enforcement officials.
Classes include different methods of making meth as well as how to dismantle a lab. Participants are to be fitted with proper safety equipment including masks and suits for dealing with hazardous materials.
Statistics show that 286 methamphetamine labs were discovered in the state in 2012. So far this year, 123 have been found.
Smith said the average cost of one meth lab is $250,000, including the entire process from discovery by police and cleanup to the judicial process and incarceration. Manpower and materials for cleaning a site runs about $2,800 of that amount.