Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth on Thursday released a statement in response to criticism by some legislators over his stance on a meth bill.
He said, "In response to the legislators’ attack on me as Sheriff for my stance on the meth bill: First of all the legislators around the state know how sheriffs and other law enforcement officers have wanted a meth bill passed making pseudo ephedrine products prescription only. The fact is, the data base system, known as NPLEX, is not working. And they should also know that it has not worked in states where it had already been implemented. The families and victims of the meth problem have not had a serious advocate so far. Someone needs to speak for them and that’s why I’m taking a strong stance.
"Tennessee is still number two in the country for meth labs and meth problems. Another concern for me is that it is estimated that within the year, Federal funding for meth lab cleanup is expected to dry up. That means that Bradley County will have to pay the bill for meth cleanup which will ad up to tens of thousands of dollars. If Bradley County experiences the same number of meth labs in the future as they did in 2012 the expense for the county could be approaching $200 thousand of tax payer money.
"As I have stated before, in states where pseudo ephedrine products are prescription-only the meth problem has decreased around 70-80%. The excuses some legislators give for not passing a meth bill is very weak. First of all, it will not be a great inconvenience for people to visit a doctor once or twice a year to get a prescription for pseudo ephedrine products. Everyone knows that doctors frequently extend a prescription several times throughout the allergy season, and there are other options besides pseudo ephedrine products.
"My stance as sheriff is for public safety and to fight against our number one crime problem in Bradley County which is the meth problem.
"Some legislators make statements that the meth bill will not stop meth problems in this country – they are referring to the Mexican meth coming into this country known as “ICE.” A meth bill to control meth manufacture in the US will not stop foreign meth from coming into the country, but it will at least slow it down. It will do something about our local problem of home-grown meth and it will greatly slow down the bulk quantities of pseudo ephedrine products being shipped illegally to Mexico. Once pseudo ephedrine is controlled, we could concentrate greater efforts on ICE as we do cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs.
"I see the wording and intent of my articles have been misquoted by some in an effort to come back at me as I indicated in those very same articles would happen.
"Let the facts speak for themselves. In 2011, 3.6 million grams of pseudo ephedrine was sold to 649,000 Tennessee buyers. In 2012, 3.77 million grams of pseudo ephedrine was purchased by 748,000 Tennesseans. Also for 2012, there were thousands of fraudulent driver’s licenses used to purchase pseudo ephedrine products in Tennessee. The number of “smurfs” (people who buy the precursors for meth for meth dealers) have increased greatly and the system again is not working. Before the data base system was put into place it was estimated that one smurf used to buy 20 packages of the precursors for meth, now it is estimated that 40 smurfs are buying 1 package of the precursor for meth every time they can.
"The fact is we are not going to fix the meth problem with law enforcement efforts only. The problem is a societal problem.
"In 2012 there was a 14% increase with over 1800 meth labs dealt with in TN and over 100,000 new buyers for the precursors to make meth in 2012 in Tennessee. In the first three months of this year, over 500 labs have been seized. At this rate, we will set a record for the number of labs seized in Tennessee!
"As sheriff, I am responsible for the public’s safety. That means the safety of children, older people and everyone in between who is affected by the meth problem. That is my stance. I predicted I would come up against strong resistance, and I have. As sheriff, I do not understand delaying action on the meth bill when it is seen by most law enforcement people around the state as the number one problem - as shown by a survey taken at the Governor’s Public Safety Forum in Nashville last December."
*The above studies and facts can be verified by both the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office at http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/OREA/ and Government Accountability Office at http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/652109.txt.