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Meth tast force tackles epidemic

On Friday, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts officially unveiled a new team of local, state and federal law enforcement officials created to take on the meth epidemic.

The Clackamas County Inter-agency Task Force includes officers from a half-dozen city police departments, as well as personnel from the sheriff's office, the district attorney's office, the Oregon State Police, the Oregon National Guard and the Internal Revenue Service.

In action since Sept. 5, the team's accomplishments were highlighted by Roberts, including 19 arrests, the recovery of two stolen handguns and five children placed in protective custody.

'Meth is having an impact on our families, and most especially our children,' he said. 'This whole program is worth it, if it allows us to protect children.'Among those on hand for the event was Representative Darlene Hooley, who addressed about 100 local leaders and law enforcement officials in attendance.Hooley emphasized the need for the federal government to be forthcoming with funds to pay for prevention programs and treatment.

'Prevention works, but you have to do three things,' she explained. 'First, you have to cut off the supply, which goes to our efforts at the national and international levels. Second, you need to reduce demand, through treatment. Third, you need to break the cycle.'

As an example of that cycle of drug-dependency that can run through multiple generations in a single family, Hooley described a woman she had met in a shelter in Salem. Her father was dead of a heroin overdose, and her eldest son was in jail on meth-related charges.

'Even if you set aside all of the heartache and misery and the cost in human lives, prevention is a cheaper solution to this problem,' said Hooley.