Officers train to handle meth labs - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Officers train to handle meth labs

Local lawmen are brushing up on tackling a dangerous, toxic threat: the area's meth labs.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Department hosted a week long training session for officers from across northwestern Alabama, including Walker and Jackson counties and the cities in between.

It is an intense course. Not only do the officers spend hours in the classroom learning how to deactivate the chemicals found in meth labs, they then get hands on experience in the field with instructors.

The main focus through it all is safety.

"I've been through other trainings, other areas across the United States, and this class really opened my eyes to more things and how to process these," said Charles Tidwell.

Tidwell is one of the nearly one dozen officers in northwest Alabama who took part in a 40 hour training course on how to process and diffuse meth labs.

The veteran sheriff's deputy said safety is key when dealing with meth.

"Making sure everybody is safe out here doing this because there's so much potential of somebody getting hurt," he said.

Wearing protective suits from head to toe, sealed shut with tape, the officers diffuse several types of meth labs using their new skills.

"The training they had before this did not train them to be safe, and what people don't know is these officers are dealing with meth labs without proper protective equipment. They get sick and they get sick years from now," said instructor, Jake Kelton.

Kelton said he is confident in these officers' abilities to handle and process meth labs in their communities.

"I'd put these guys against anyone in the country," he said. "They're very well trained and a great asset to the community."

The meth labs used in Friday's training session were not staged. The officers got to work with nearly 30 real meth labs that have been confiscated or found across Franklin County in recent months.

Because of the lack of certified officers, the Franklin County Sheriff's Department stores deactivated labs in a trailer until someone can come in and diffuse the chemicals.

This week, nearly a dozen officers have been certified to handle the labs, helping to reduce the work load in departments across the state.     

Kelton said not only were Friday's training labs real, but they are the most dangerous kinds.

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