Two of Pell City’s finest, Police Officers Richard Woods and Franklin Green have completed Meth Lab Identification Classes.

Woods and Green are the first of three officers in St. Clair County to be certified to assess and process Meth Labs.

DEA officials in Birmingham conducted an extensive training course that Wood and Green attended April 13-17.

Law enforcement considers methamphetamine to be the number one drug threat in Alabama.

Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug and a powerful central nervous system stimulant.

It is also known as meth, speed, crystal, crank and ice.

The 40-hour course teaches law enforcement officers to respond to, dismantle and investigate clandestine methamphetamine laboratories.

“During our training we learn the chemical compounds involved in making meth and the proper way to assess and process a meth lab,” said Officer Woods.

“Process,” Woods explains, “is the dismantling of a meth lab facility.”

“The guidelines for this process are set by OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and are to be strictly followed, because many toxic and dangerous chemicals are used in meth manufacturing,” said Officer Green.

Techniques for producing the drug vary, but can include the use of such materials as lye (sodium hydroxide), red phosphorus, lithium metal, benzene, toluene, ether and ammonia. The danger is compounded when the materials are “cooked” over an open flame, creating both fire and explosion hazards.

“In our classes we observed a ‘controlled’ cooking of meth,” said Officer Woods.

The ingredients used to make meth are explosive, flammable and dangerous to touch or breathe the officers said.

Woods and Green also receive training in the proper use and fitting of SCBA (Self contained breathing apparatus) as well as APR (Air Purifying Respirator).

SCBA and APR equipment is vital because of the hazardous nature of so many of the chemicals involved in the manufacture of meth according to the officers.

The chemicals must be handled carefully because of their volatility and because of the destructive effect they have been shown to have on vital organs and tissues in the human body.

Woods and Green warned of the dangers to first responders as well as civilians who come into contact with meth’s manufacture.

“We are seeing a rise in the number of meth labs because the drug has become so easy to make,” said Woods. Green noted. “All the ingredients to make meth can be purchased for about $50 dollars at the local Wal-Mart.”

The officers continued to explain that for a $50 investment an addict or manufacturer could make around three grams of meth. “Three grams is enough to keep a hardcore user high for around four days,” Woods explained.

They also pointed out that people are now making meth in 20 ounce Gator-Aid bottles and warn people to never pick up such a bottle, as it is like a hand grenade ready to explode.

On Friday, April 17, Officer Green was called to put his training into action.

“Just six hours after training I was called into an investigation,” said Green.

During a routine stop that resulted in a subsequent chase, Pell City police smelled a strange odor emanating from the vehicle.

Green found a complete meth lab in the truck of the car and this resulted in the arrest of Dennis Arthur Marrs, 33, of Pell City who according to police had outstanding warrants.

Green processed the scene using his new skills, photographed the materials, called the DEA and prepared the samples.

“These men are top-notch narcotics officers,” said Pell City Police Lieutenant Danny Holmes. “These two work well together and we are proud of them.”

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