How the debt crisis is affecting jobs, safety and meth labs in Missouri

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by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on August 11, 2011 at 11:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 11 at 11:41 PM

(KMOV) -- The nation's debt crisis has forced a federal funding cut to clean up meth labs.

Franklin County Sheriff's deputies have collected a pile of tanks and soda bottles they say were used to manufacture meth. Detectives say it represents just 10-percent of the meth labs in Franklin County alone.

Sgt. Jason Grellner has become an expert on the dangers. He's been dismantling meth labs for more than a decade.

"We're seeing some really huge cuts to law enforcement and to narcotics enforcement," Sgt. Grellner says.

And that, he says, puts lives at risk.

"We know as law enforcement... that 85-percent to 90-percent of all crime revolves around narcotics and alcohol."

Trimming the federal debt has left many states in the lurch to pay for costly meth lab clean up... but not Missouri. Police here are trained to take down and dispose of meth labs, and the state picks up the tab. Now other states are calling the sergeant to adopt a similar system to work without federal funding.

Sgt. Grellner says the cuts are detrimental to fighting meth across the nation.

"Our national organizations are very afraid that the pharmaceutical companies are going to come in and say the war on meth is over, we've won -- meth labs are going down all across the United States."

When in reality, he says that just means fewer labs are being discovered.

There are 27 officers in Missouri -- with one dedicated to Franklin County -- whose sole job is to hunt down meth labs. Without federal dollars, they're all on the chopping block.

Law enforcement busted 955 meth labs by May in Missouri this year. Detectives have discovered meth labs in some of the nicest homes in our area, inside cars, hotels... even a daycare.

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