Grant to boost meth law enforcement

TOPEKA — Law enforcement officers and prosecutors in southwest and southeast Kansas will receive $1 million to help combat methamphetamine in their regions.

State Attorney General Steve Six announced the grant Tuesday from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Meth ruins lives and destroys families," said Six in a written statement. "The Kansas Meth Initiative is a comprehensive program aimed at cracking down on the manufacturing, trafficking and sales of meth in our state through enforcement training and education."

The initiative will help pay for two drug prosecutors who will focus on meth cases in the two regions. It will also help provide training for law enforcement and local prosecutors in handling meth cases statewide.

Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton said he was pleased to see money going to the drug prosecutors, which he called crucial.

Horton, who is chair of the six-county Southeast Kansas Drug Taskforce, said having a prosecutor who focused on meth cases presented by the task force seemed to make the process go smoother.

Meth is still an issue "and it is a big issue that affects all of us down here," he said.

The grant also will pay for National Certification Training for 180 Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents and local law enforcement officers on safe evidence collection and increased meth lab detection, according to the Attorney General's Office.

"I can't stress how big of a help it is for us," said Tony Weingartner, assistant director of the KBI. "We're pretty excited."

It has been about five years since the bureau has been able to offer the training in Kansas, he said.

The process used in cooking meth leaves behind hazardous chemicals requiring special handling. The money also will help pay for some of the special equipment needed when working on meth lab sites, he said.

Additionally, some of the grant will help cover overtime for KBI agents who help local law enforcement agencies handle meth labs, Weingartner said.