Volusia Co. Sheriff's Office cutting back support to cities in meth lab cleanups

Updated:

Loading

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - The meth problem in Volusia County has gotten so bad that the sheriff is taking action to keep his department from absorbing all the cleanup and investigation costs in the county.

"My budget and manpower can't continue to do this," said Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson.

This week, Johnson sent a letter to police departments across the county informing them that in June his office will take a much smaller role in meth lab investigations and cleanups.

"It came to the point that we were spending way too much time, too much money and too many man hours on it that we weren't able to do our own work," said Johnson.

The sheriff's office responded to 82 meth labs last year -- a nearly 200 percent increase from 2011. The fear is that number will continue to increase.

Some residents like Tom Sepe wonder if dividing up the meth busting effort will dilute the results.

"They get expert examination of all the evidence and I think one big facility is the way to go," said Sepe.

The sheriff said the new rules will go into effect on June 1. Most police departments said they are ready.

"We have three other officers, they are certified, that can enter meth labs, clean up, investigate. So I don't believe it's going to affect us very much," said Jason Sampsel of the Orange City Police Department.

The sheriff said his agency has provided ample training already, to help smaller agencies absorb the extra workload.

"We put the training out. We spent over $22,000. We brought in people to do the training, so that the different cities could start doing it," said Johnson.

The Sheriff's Office took responsibility for meth lab investigations and cleanup in 2007 because the Drug Enforcement Administration stopped providing the service to local municipalities around the country.

Volusia County has already cleaned up 22 meth labs this year.