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Illinois Attorney General MethNet

 

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Strategies for Fighting Meth
   

Law Enforcement Strategies
 

Law enforcement authorities play a vital role in the effort to protect the public from the harms and dangers caused by methamphetamine. In addition to traditional crime-fighting responsibilities, meth has imposed special and quite serious responsibilities on law enforcement authorities in Illinois.

 

How do law enforcement authorities work to fight the production and use of meth?

Local, state, and federal law enforcement authorities are involved in the fight against meth in Illinois.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     

How do law enforcement authorities work to fight the production and use of meth? Back to top

 

Law enforcement authorities investigate meth-related crimes, arrest persons suspected of committing such crimes, develop cases against them, and work with prosecutors to bring these cases to trial.

Because meth labs and meth waste sites are crime scenes, the primary responsibility for investigating, documenting, and cleaning up these sites has fallen on law enforcement authorities. These are dangerous and difficult tasks that can be carried out only by officers with specialized training and expensive protective equipment. In law enforcement lingo, these officers are "clan lab certified," that is, certified to investigate and dismantle clandestine methamphetamine laboratories. In most cases, four "clan lab certified" officers must respond to each and every meth lab or meth waste site.

Distressed by the harms and dangers that meth inflicts on communities, many law enforcement officers have assumed additional responsibilities, above and beyond those already described. Law enforcement officers in Illinois have accepted invitations to help educate community organizations and schoolchildren about meth dangers; they have assisted in the formation of local coalitions against meth; and they have participated in regional, state, and national efforts to address the meth crisis. In many instances, law enforcement officers undertake these tasks on their own time, without compensation, out of a professional and personal concern for the well-being of their communities.

The burden of investigating and cleaning up the growing number of meth labs and meth waste sites has put a tremendous strain on law enforcement resources in Illinois. Because meth labs are often located in rural areas, this strain has fallen most heavily on villages, towns, and counties with limited personnel and resources. Taking into account other burdens and expenses stemming from the meth epidemic, it is not an exaggeration to say that in many parts of central and southern Illinois, meth has bankrupted local communities and crippled public health and safety efforts.

 

What is the role of the Illinois Attorney General's Office? Back to top

 

The Illinois Attorney General's Office works with all of the agencies listed below to help slow the spread of meth in Illinois. This collaboration takes several different forms:

  • Through the Statewide Grand Jury Bureau, the Attorney General's Office helps county state's attorneys prosecute drug crimes that cross county borders. As part of this effort, the office has developed considerable expertise in the investigation and prosecution of meth crimes.

  • Also through the Statewide Grand Jury Bureau, the Attorney General's Office participates in joint state-federal efforts to investigate and prosecute meth crimes.

  • The Attorney General's Office has conducted trainings across the state for law enforcement authorities and prosecutors on best practices for the investigation and prosecution of meth cases.

  • The Attorney General's Office has worked with law enforcement authorities to draft legislation addressing the meth crisis in Illinois, including legislation doubling penalties against meth makers who endanger children, legislation regulating the display and sale of pseudoephedrine (the key ingredient in meth), and legislation consolidating and improving the provisions of the Illinois criminal code dealing with meth.

     

What is the role of county sheriffs' offices and local police departments? Back to top

 

County sheriffs' offices and local police departments are frontline officers in the struggle against meth. They respond to citizen tips, investigate and develop meth cases, and work with county state's attorneys to bring these cases to trial. An increasing number of county sheriffs' deputies and local police officers are "clan lab certified," and they work with other local, state, and (in some cases) federal authorities to investigate and dismantle meth labs.

     

What is the role of county state's attorneys' offices? Back to top

 

County state's attorneys are front-line prosecutors in the struggle against meth. They have primary responsibility for prosecuting crimes committed within county borders, including meth crimes. The proliferation of meth cases over the past decade has strained the resources of many rural state's attorneys' offices, which may employ only a small number of prosecutors – sometimes just one or two.

     

What is the role of multi-county anti-drug task forces? Back to top

 

Multi-county anti-drug task forces play an important role as well. Because county sheriffs' offices and local police departments are often small and understaffed, they may not have a sufficient number of "clan lab certified" officers and other resources to investigate and dismantle multiple meth labs. For this reason, they often work on meth cases together, through multi-jurisdictional anti-drug task forces (often known as "drug task forces" or "metropolitan enforcement groups").

     

What is the role of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA)? Back to top

 

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) provides funding - much of it from the federal government - to many drug task forces and metropolitan enforcement groups. In addition, the ICJIA gathers and analyzes law enforcement data, including indicators of meth production, distribution, and use.

     

What is the role of the Illinois State Police (ISP)? Back to top

 

The Illinois State Police (ISP) is an agency that investigates and dismantles meth labs across Illinois. This agency coordinates the work of many drug task forces and metropolitan enforcement groups. In addition, the ISP has formed "meth response teams" throughout the state to help local authorities investigate and dismantle meth labs and to conduct proactive investigations of meth-related crimes.

     

What is the role of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)? Back to top

 

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) works with local, county, and state law enforcement authorities to address the meth problem on the state and national level. As the national drug enforcement agency, the DEA develops intelligence on meth production and distribution. The agency also helps investigate and dismantle larger meth-making operations and multi-state meth distribution rings.

     

What is the role of the United States Attorneys' offices? Back to top

 

The United States Attorneys' Offices for the Southern, Central, and Northern Districts of Illinois prosecute federal drug crimes committed in Illinois, including larger or more sophisticated meth crimes. Working with the DEA and other agencies, U.S. Attorneys' offices develop these cases and bring them to trial in federal court.

 

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