Mayor Don Wesely today announced that he is calling a community summit meeting on the methamphetamine problem from 8 a.m. to noon, Tuesday May 7 at the Cornhusker Hotel. The free conference will bring together representatives of government, education, law enforcement, the court system, social service agencies and the medical community to discuss the increasing manufacture and use of the highly addictive and destructive drug.
"Meth affects all of us - employers, victims of crimes, parents and friends of addicts, landlords, educators, health care providers," said Mayor Wesely. "A comprehensive strategy involving the entire community is needed to combat meth, and greater awareness is a starting point. If we don't attack this problem, we'll continue to pay the price in higher crime rates, incarceration and medical treatment costs."
In January, Mayor Wesely and Police Chief Tom Casady called on citizens and retailers to help fight the meth problem by being alert to the signs of meth production and use. Casady said during the past year in the community, four people have died in meth-related incidents - three homicides and one meth lab explosion. Nine law enforcement officers were injured during meth lab investigations. Casady said meth is also linked to double-digit increases in forgery and theft cases.
"Meth represents the greatest drug risk to the community I have seen during my career," said Casady. "The police cannot solve this problem alone. Arresting meth dealers and users is important, but it's not enough. We need the support of everyone to address this threat on many fronts. "
Casady said the presence of meth continues to increase in Lincoln and in the Midwest because its ingredients are readily available, and it is relatively low in cost. Last year, 44 meth labs were discovered and shut down in Lancaster County - 23 of those in the city limits. So far this year, there have been 14 meth labs in Lancaster County, with nine of those in the city limits. Last year, $10.8 million worth of meth was involved in federal indictments for meth trafficking in Lincoln. Of the 3,083 drug arrests last year, 532 were felony drug arrests. Drug arrests have increased 54 percent in the past five years.
U.S. Attorney Mike Heavican will deliver the summit's keynote address. Other presenters include Assistant Chief Jim Peschong of the Lincoln Police Department; Bruce Dart, Director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department; Dr. Steven A Seifert, Poison Center Medical Director at Children's Hospital in Omaha; Laurie Sheerer, Clinical Director of Centerpointe and District Court Judge Karen Flowers.
Flyers announcing the summit will be distributed later this week. Those wishing to register can contact Sergeant Mike Woolman by e-mail at LPD737@cjis.lincoln.ne.gov or by calling 441-7215.