GRAFTON— By now most of us are aware that the nation, state and community are in a situation where drug use overdoses and crime related to drugs are on the rise. While the nation and state are grappling with an ever-growing opioid problem, one local official sites another menace for the Taylor County Community.
According to Taylor County Prosecutor John Bord, it is currently not an opioid problem that the area’s residents are facing, but rather the influx of methamphetamine.
“Meth has become the drug of choice in Taylor County,” he voiced.
Bord reported that this year, the Taylor County Circuit Court has been inundated with cases involving drug components.
84 felony cases have been filed in Circuit Court since January 1. 80 percent, or 75, of those cases have a drug component. Additionally, there have been 58 child abuse and neglect cases filed since January 1, and 46 of those cases involved the use of drugs by parents.
Although there are the occasional arrests made where individuals are charged with the manufacture of methamphetamine, Bord disclosed that many of the area’s users and dealers are receiving the drug from surrounding areas including Fairmont, Morgantown and Clarksburg.
“When the legislature cracked down on the sale of ephedrine in stores, we in law enforcement saw a drastic reduction in people making it by the shake and bake method,” he shared.
“Additionally, meth is becoming more and more available as a result of the international drug trade that is coming out of Mexico.”
Those factors, in addition to meth being cheaper to buy than make, has led to an increase in the drug’s usage within the community.
Bord sites an increase in violent crimes associated with methamphetamine usage. He shared that individuals who are under the effects of the drug are often more paranoid and willing to fight.
“Crimes of violence in Taylor County have risen over the past three years,” revealed Bord. “That is in direct correlation with the effects of meth.”
When children are present, the result can be very troubling. Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Nines, who handles the county’s abuse and neglect cases, is all too aware of the toll that meth use takes on families.
“Not only have we seen a rise in violence against children in the home setting, but meth, unlike opioids, is a toxic substance, “Nines explained. “Children who are around meth and meth use can be, literally, poisoned by the drug.”
Not only has methamphetamine become an issue within the law enforcement community, other first responders are dealing with the issues that surround the drug.
Unlike opioids, Narcan has no effect on methamphetamine users.
“When a person overdoses using meth, it will not work to reverse the effects. I don’t know how many people are aware that Narcan works only on opioids,” said Bord.
With no way to combat the issue of overdose, the community is left searching for answers and ways to fight a monster that has no face.
Because of the increase in arrests, the prosecutor’s office has seen a rise in both the criminal case load, along with abuse and neglect cases within the past three years. Taking note of the issue, the Taylor County Commission agreed to hire an addition part-time Assistant Prosecuting Attorney (APA).
“We were able to bring on Christopher Miller, who has been a great help,” revealed Bord. “Even with his help, we were still very busy with our caseloads, so I approached the commission again, and they allowed me to hire Shawn Nines as a full-time APA, who was acting as a part-time APA before that decision.”
The prosecutors aren’t the only court personnel feeling the burden of the increased cases. The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Alan D. Moats is battling the overwhelming caseload, serving in both Taylor and Barbour Counties.
“Because of the drug epidemic, In January, of 2019, the State Legislature will be adding another Circuit Judge in this circuit,” reported Bord. “What is happening to the community is a sad situation, and we are doing what we can to help combat the issue. Only time will tell if the community can bounce back from the grips of meth.”