Chief asks city do drug risk assessment
Tonganoxie Police Chief Jeff Brandau told the city council on Monday the community could take action to reduce drug problems in the city.
Brandau, who started with the department Oct. 4, said he met earlier in the day with the state’s methamphetamine coordinator and the director of the county’s drug prevention center. They asked that Tonganoxie join a county coalition to address drug use in the county, he said.
The coalition will first meet Nov. 9 to start development of a risk assessment for the county, Brandau said. He asked the council support the effort and that some of the council members attend.
The city could duplicate the county effort in Tonganoxie, Brandau said.
“It’s a step toward forming a Tonganoxie coalition to address our own concerns and risks,” he said. “There are some we will be aware of, and some I’m sure we are not aware of.”
The exercise would not only identify risks but propose ways to address them, Brandau said. It would be a comprehensive plan the city and its partners, such as the school district, shared and kept active, he said.
In response to a question from Mayor Jason Ward, Brandau — who had investigative and supervisory responsibilities for drug enforcement during his career with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation — said methamphetamine became a problem in the Midwest in the mid-1990s because it appealed to a regional demographic and because it became easy to produce from pseudoephedrine, which was then available in over-the-counter cold and allergy remedies. Laws have since restricted access to pseudoephedrine, but despite those laws, meth manufacturers still get their hands on the chemical, he said.
Meth and the increasing problem of prescription drug abuse can start at a young age, Brandau said.
“Eighty percent of addicts started before 16,” he said. “To say we don’t have it here, I’d say is not true. Some of the data to be shared on the (Nov.) ninth demonstrates that. You’d be surprised how low it goes — even in the sixth-grade, even in Tonganoxie.”
But Brandau said awareness and action, such the Leavenworth County Coalition and the one he proposed for Tonganoxie, can make a difference.
“I think we can do some positive things,” he said. “There’s a number of things we don’t really watch close enough that allow things to happen. But it’s something that, as a community, we can combat. We can make it a public service to look out for meth labs.”
“Meth Watch” signs posted on streets and in stores would serve as a warning to anyone coming to Tonganoxie seeking to buy meth that officials and residents were on the alert for suspicious behavior and it would not be tolerated, Brandau said.
Councilman Bill Peak agreed to attend the first county coalition meeting, to be from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 9 at the Leavenworth City Library on Spruce Street.
In another matter, Brandau showed crime could sometimes pay for the good guys. He informed the council he would put a 2009 Ford Focus confiscated in a drug raid on an Ebay auction. The car has an estimated value of $10,000, he said.
The use of Ebay will allow the city to require a minimum bid on the car, Brandau said. If that bid isn’t realized, the car will be listed on an Internet auction that specializes on items from local governments, he said.
The Leavenworth County Attorney’s Office will receive 15 percent of the revenue from the sale of the car.
The council also agreed to a department request to purchase four electronic control guns at the cost of $3260.
Police Lieutenant Billy Adcox said the city purchased two such guns six years ago and they had a life expectancy of five to seven years. The guns are now unreliable and have been taken out of service, he said.
The request was to replace those two guns and add two more to provide coverage for the growing department, Adcox said.
The guns have been used 14 times, and none of the individuals on whom they were used was injured or required medical treatment, Adcox said. The guns have also been used to control aggressive dogs, he said.
The money for the guns is to come from the police department’s equipment reserved fund.