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DeKalb, Steuben crack down on meth, child neglect

Statement as distributed Monday by the Indiana Department of Child Services:

AUBURN, IND. (Feb. 18, 2013) – The sheriffs in DeKalb and Steuben counties, along with the Indiana Department of Child Services, are encouraging community members to report incidents of suspected methamphetamine production and use. The two counties are among those Indiana areas battling a high number of meth users and labs and the impact this epidemic is having on Hoosier families.

According to the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office, 70 meth labs were seized in the county in 2012. DeKalb County seized 41.

“Meth is a super stimulant and generates a different kind of addict,” said Steuben County Sheriff Tim Troyer. “Right now it’s the most dominant illegal drug in our area.”

DeKalb County Sheriff Don Lauer believes it’s the single most-addictive illegal drug in America today. “The affect that meth addiction has on families is devastating,” he said. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking for our officers to go into a house, find a meth lab, and then see a toddler playing nearby.” The drug controls the abuser so much they will often lose their home, personal possessions and even children to simply get high one more time.

Steuben County DCS Director Jan Lung sees first-hand the devastating effects meth has on families. “Parents who use meth tend to utilize their resources for the drug, leaving little money to buy food for their children,” said Lung. “They ignore a child’s most basic needs like a safe home and supervision. And many times they even neglect to send their children to school.” Lung says about 35 percent of Steuben’s child welfare cases involve meth.

Wes Husselman, DCS’ DeKalb County director, says children’s health and safety are put at extreme risk when parents or caretakers manufacture meth in the child’s home. “Children are not only exposed to hazardous chemicals, there’s always the possibility of a fire or explosion.”

Sheriffs Lauer and Troyer both say their departments rely heavily on the support and information local citizens provide about the use and production of meth. "The best way citizens can help our community is to get involved. If you suspect illegal drug activity in your neighborhood, call and report your suspicions," said Lauer.

Troyer emphasized the crucial importance of telling someone about any suspicions. “If you don’t let us know, those drug-related activities will continue and that will allow the meth problem to perpetuate.”

In Steuben County, anyone with a tip about illegal drugs should contact the sheriff’s office at 260.668.1000, ext. 5000. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at www.steubensheriff.com. For DeKalb County, call 260.925.3365. In addition, a northeast Indiana illegal drugs task force welcomes anonymous tips online at www.imagedrugtaskforce.org. The IMAGE (Indiana Multi Agency Group Enforcement) drug task force includes law enforcement agencies from LaGrange and Noble counties as well as DeKalb and Steuben.

DCS must also rely on community members to help protect children. In Indiana, all citizens are required to report incidents of child abuse and neglect. "We look to neighbors, friends, family members and other community members as first responders in helping protect children," said DeKalb County’s Husselman. Anyone suspecting abuse or neglect should contact the child abuse and neglect hotline at 800.800.5556.

About Indiana Department of Child Services:

DCS is committed to protecting children who are victims of abuse or neglect. The agency’s primary goal is to safely keep these children at home with their families by offering appropriate support services. If safety continues to be a concern, children are placed with relatives or in foster care. DCS also oversees adoptions from the foster care system and manages the child support bureau. The Kids First Trust Fund, supported by the sale of ’Kids First’ specialty automobile license plates, subsidizes programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect. Indiana Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 800.800.5556 www.in.gov/dcs.

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