'Life or Meth': Officials discus rising drug rates in Panhandle
SIDNEY, NE -- Officials are calling it life or meth for some rural areas in Nebraska.
Members of the drug enforcement administration, FBI, Nebraska State Patrol and U.S. attorneys office gathered in Sidney this week for meetings with local police regarding increased levels of methamphetamine in the Panhandle community.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge FBI Omaha, Phil Lenz says, “Over the years we have seen a dramatic increase of meth going into rural communities”.
Lenz says he has teamed up with Cheyenne County Sheriff Adam Frerichs to work together to combat this threat.
Frerichs says that people doing or selling drugs, including meth, are moving to rural areas because of the detection point.
“What we are addressing today is that a lot of folks are migrating to the rural areas because of the detection point. Because we’re rural, we don’t have as many cops. We have lots of rental houses out in the county where you can go out there and live, and your nearest neighbor is 5 miles away from you. It’s hard to detect and I think that's part of the attraction to the rural communities” says Frerichs.
Lenz says to make a difference it is important to educate people on the dangers of meth.
Police officers also held a presentation at Sidney Elementary school regarding the dangers of drugs to educate 11, 12, and 13 year-olds.
Lenz says it will take education, rehab, and teamwork to make a difference in the meth problem in the state.
“You can’t arrest your way out of the meth problem here within the state. There’s a lot of rehab groups working together. A lot of education that needs to occur in order for us to make a difference. Here, at law enforcement, we’re going to focus in on actually arresting the bad guys. However, there’s a whole system within the communities and within the state in order to rehab those individuals and help those individuals who are on meth” says Lenz.