All The Talking Isn't Stopping The Meth Problem In Payson

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During 72 hours last week, Child Protective Services in Payson took seven children from their mothers, due to the mothers' methamphetamine addiction.

Picture this: Three children, ages 4 months, 2 years old and 5, riding as passengers in the front seat of a beat-up old pickup truck, with their "momma" driving and spinning so hard on meth, that she is bouncing all around the cab. When their "mother" is taken from the truck, the 5-year-old asks, "Is my momma being arrested?" The 5-year-old is feeding the baby a bottle. The baby is in an unbelted car seat. Behind her tears, while caring for her baby brother, the 5-year-old asks, "Who is going take care of us?"

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Gordon Gartner

Who is going take care of them? Who? Who will make sure they are fed, that they are clothed? Who will change their diapers? Who will take pictures of them, when they go off to school? Who will teach them about good and evil? Who will love them?

You had a mom and dad, or you are mom or dad. Maybe you're a grandparent. Ask yourself, how were you taken care of, or how did you take care of those who you had charge of?

This mother of three babies left a house where our officers were preparing to serve a search warrant for methamphetamines, on a suspected drug dealer who has been out of prison for less than one month. This same suspect still has charges pending for selling meth that occurred prior to his going to prison.

Another suspected meth dealer, who served time for bank robbery, has been arrested for providing meth to a 16-year-old girl, while in possession of a firearm, and for aggravated DUI, while he was driving under the influence of meth. Can you imagine that?

This same outstanding individual was also arrested for a series of crimes involving young teenage girls, sex and meth. Both of these incidents occurred within the last six months, yet he is still out on the streets. He is also a buddy with the other guy who just got out of prison and associated with three other men who are suspected of committing a brutal murder. My detectives tell me they are receiving intelligence reports that he is actively selling meth in our area. If he reads this, he will know I am talking about him, and he needs to know that it is just a matter of time before we pay him a visit with our Special Response Team.

All of the meth coalitions, all of the meetings where we wring our hands and decry the evils of meth and all of the tough talk hasn't changed a thing for my cops on the street.

We arrest the same people over and over and over again. Now, we are seeing the parents passing their criminal ways on to their children. The same cute, freckle-faced, 5-year-old girl who wants to know, "Who is going to take care of us?", we will be arresting in 10 years. She will have been a runaway, a shoplifter, a truant and well on the way to following in her mother's footsteps. The social workers will still be whining about no funding and begging for grants. The judges will still be complaining about being overworked and CPS and the cops will still be pounding the streets, picking up kids and arresting drug addicts. And the little girl, she just wants somebody to take care of her. I don't think that she is asking for more than what she is entitled.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe all of these kids are doing just fine. Maybe it's OK that a little girl has traces of meth on her skin and in her hair from being in the same house when her mom lights up the old meth pipe.

I suppose I am being overly sensitive to this issue. After all, I think it's child abuse.

At some point, we as a society, have to take the stand that we can't keep dealing with the same criminals, day in and day out. If meth is more important to you then your own children, if meth is causing you to beat your wife and steal from your family and friends, if meth is ruling your life, I am sorry for you, but nobody made you light that first pipe or shoot up that first load. You knew what it was when you started and most assuredly, you knew you were committing a felony. Maybe you're an addict and maybe you have a disease. You're also a criminal and a felon, somebody who knows they can go to jail.

The rest of us, who do not share your problem, can demand a change. You are destroying families, costing us all millions of dollars. We can, and must, demand that you clean up or go to prison. No more third, fourth, fifth, sixth and so on, chances. If you keep getting arrested, your conditions of release will be revoked, and if you are convicted of your crimes, you serve the time.

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