When I first arrived in Cottonwood to assume my duties as the police chief, I made an assessment of the community related to those factors that have an impact on public safety. This assessment is based on my observations, on the experience of our police officers, and input from citizens.
The factor that concerns me most and presents a significant challenge to our community and every other community in our nation is drug use, particularly the use of methamphetamine (meth). This is a menace that will ruin lives and families and it will take us all working together to eliminate the danger this drug presents.
In the past six months, the police department has investigated six deaths related to illegal drug use. Most of these were meth-related. So what is the attraction of meth? While the user reports an immediate "rush" and feelings of euphoria, generally, the true desire to use drugs is to escape or to be accepted by peers.
All of these reasons do not justify the use of meth and the damage that occurs to the users include irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain eventually leading to strokes, respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat, extreme anorexia, and, with continued use, cardiovascular collapse and death.
So what are the signs that someone you know or love is using meth? Meth affects the central nervous system and even small amounts can cause wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, hyperthermia, and euphoria. You may also notice increased irritability, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, and aggressiveness. If they are a family member or close friend, you may also begin to notice money or other valuables missing that serve to help the user buy more meth.
The police department is working diligently to arrest the users and sellers of meth, but we also want to educate and discourage the next potential users in our community. We will be working with other law enforcement agencies, health professionals, school administrators, the media, and other drug education professionals to develop a program that better informs our citizens, especially our young citizens, on the hazards and signs of meth use. With a better educated community, we can work together to rid our city of meth and those that promote and facilitate its use.