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Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow says he has established lists of known local drug users and dealers.

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Methow drug use

The Twisp Police Department has a two-page list of locally known methamphetamine users and dealers and is building cases against them, according to Police Chief Paul Budrow and Officer Mike Hartnett, who spoke to valley social service providers Friday.

Budrow said that to continue to effectively build cases he needs more people to speak to him confidentially who are willing to sign their names on a report and say how they know someone is a user or dealer. He said he can't go to the prosecutor for search warrants without that evidence. “I’ve been here a year,” Budrow said. “It’s taken that long to get people to trust me. Especially in the last six months, we’ve established lists of users and dealers of all the different drugs.”

"We have a pretty comprehensive list two pages long of known meth users and meth dealers," said t, a child abuse and drug enforcement specialist. "The people on that list are going to get a lot of face time. We're going to pay attention to them... Our goal is to make arrests, make them go someplace else to do their stuff, or get help." He also said he didn't know whether meth was the most common drug here, but it's use "is on the rise and it's the most consequential drug. Meth users are going to steal your cars and break into your houses because they have to have that drug." Budrow told the group it "only takes one hit" of meth to become addicted to the high. Hartnett called the drug a "death sentence" within 10 years.

Hartnett also shared his personal story: "My daughter when she was 16 years old got addicted to meth. I had no clue. I was the cop with all this knowledge...I had to kidnap my own daughter and take her to rehab. It was the hardest thing I've ever done." The residential rehab program worked. His daughter is now 22 and has been clean for years. But Hartnett added that during her treatment, "It was really chilling to hear my daughter say she would drive around at 2 or 3 in the morning, with her drug dealer, with guns in the car... It's unbelieveable what this drug can do in a very, very short time."

Drug use became personal when officer Mike Hartnett's daughter was addicted to meth at age 16.

Asked what parents should watch for as clues their children are using meth, Hartnett said the first thing he noticed was ambivilance. His daughter "started to isolate herself." Also note that things start missing around the house -- the change jar is empty, that $20 bill you thought you had in your wallet isn't there, last year's Christmas gift is gone. It was loaned to a friend and then they have no idea what happened to it. "They start losing assets and losing your assets. They start losing weight." Meth addicts also get parnoid, he said. They start seeing and hearing things. They think bugs are crawling up their arm. They might cut themselves. Might pick at themselves and have scabs on their arms and faces. "Their mouths rot out from the chemicals." And they don't want help, Hartnett added. "You have to show some tough love or some tough jail time."

When asked about local meth labs, the officers said they don't know of any. The chemicals needed to make meth are better regulated than they once were and it's cheaper to manufacture the drug elsewhere and bring it in. "Our information is that they are making it by the ton in Mexico now," Hartnett said. Drugs come into the valley over the North Cascades Highway, from Brewster, Chelan and Yakima, the officers said, adding that there's no quality control.

Hartnett said twice last month he responded to calls about suicide threats. In both cases the subjects were meth addicts. And to illustrate that drug use knows no age limit, he said last year he had a case of a man in his 80s who Hartnett thought was suffering from dementia. The man ended up in the hospital, where lab work showed he was on meth.

Lois Garland, who works in the school district, said she sees drug use moving from a parent age group down into the "young 20s crowd." And she's also known of drug-addicted parents moving to the Methow Valley because there are no drug-treatment services here. She tries to link them with rehab services.

Hartnett talked about the enforcement challenges. "In a small community I can't bring somebody in undercover," he said. "In a small, tight knit community, you don't let other people into your group" if you're a user. "If you have a problem, you can talk to me... Come talk to us. We will get you help."

Budrow said "everybody in this community knows who they [the users and dealers] are... Once we start knocking on doors, they will either ask for help or scatter."

Rick Lewis, managing ranger at Pearrygin Lake State Park, seconded the police officers plea for people to come forward. "When people see something that doesn't make sense," contact the rangers, contact law enforcement officers, he said. "Maybe it's that little piece that will put something together later on."

Budrow and Hartnett also spoke about local drug use at a community forum Thursday night in Twisp. Hartnett said it is clear that local "families and parents don't want their children exposed to drugs" and are willing to support a police crackdown. He added that the Winthrop marshal's office and two county sheriff deputies are on board. Budrow added that a drug education meeting for parents of Liberty Bell High School students has been requested and will be scheduled soon.



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