Elkhart police were hospitalized after they found a mobile meth lab in a vehicle and inhaled the chemicals that are used in the manufacture of the drug. WKVI talked with Knox City Police Chief, Clint Norem, and he said that officers don’t know what they’re going to come up against when they conduct a traffic stop:
“It’s officer awareness that has to come into play,” said Knox City Police Chief Clint Norem. “Any time an officer approaches a vehicle in a they have a multitude of things they have to consider when they’re getting near that vehicle. The officers have to make a point to actually look closer into these vehicles to see if there’s any indications that there might be a meth lab in the vehicle. The officers are trained to see these things, but the officer has to actually consciously look at the interior of the vehicle.”
Norem says the chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine are dangerous to the officers and everyone involved:
“These chemicals are acidic and can be very volatile. If oxygen or water becomes a contaminate with the mixtures that they’re carrying in their cars, it actually can cause an explosion. Again, acids are being used in this mixture so anytime an officer is in the area of that, he could inhale these chemicals which could cause burns to the lungs, which I believe is what happened the officers in Elkhart.”
Norem was asked if the Knox City Police Department calls in the Indiana State Police to clean up meth labs:
“Anytime an officer comes across a chemical or product that they believe is involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine. We are required to contact the Indiana State Police Clandestine Lab Team. A lot of these chemicals are considered hazardous materials. We don’t have the training or the funding to do this.”
Knox City Police Department officers do make several arrests that involve the possession and the manufacture of methamphetamine. The Knox City Police Department and the Starke County Sheriff’s Department are working together to investigate illegal drug activity in the County as both departments deal with meth labs and people who are in possession of methamphetamine. If you notice any illegal drug activity, especially meth lab activity, call the Knox City Police Department at 772-4122 and leave an anonymous drug tip by choosing the third message option.