Police to Sen. Todd Young: Meth is everywhere

Warsaw Police Officer Brad Kellar (left) makes a point during a meeting Thursday in a meeting with U.S. Sen. Todd Young Thursday in Warsaw. Kosciusko Coujntyh Sheriff is seen to the right. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — U.S. Sen. Todd Young came to Warsaw Thursday to hear from law enforcement and almost all of the hour-long session focused on the two-headed drug epidemic.

Police delivered a message on both methamphetamine and fentanyl.

Brad Kellar, the Warsaw Police Department’s public information officer wanted to make sure the senator knows how much of an impact meth is having in Kosciusko County.

“The amount of methamphetamine coming across the border, that’s coming into our communities is unreal. It’s very cheap and it’s everywhere,” Kellar said.

Kellar was one of several police officers who attended the roundtable meeting at city hall and was joined by Police Chief Scott Whitaker and Kosciusko County Sheriff Jim Smith. Also attending were Mayor Joe Thallemer and County Commissioner Cary Gronginer.

The meeting was part of the senator’s tour across northern Indiana and was the second time he met with law enforcement groups in recent days, according to a staff member.

Local officials conveyed that drug overdoses in Kosciusko County were worse than ever last year and police explained what they facing on the streets and the ways the community is coping with the addiction they see every day.

Young blames the fentanyl epidemic on China and cartels in Mexico.

He acknowledged — along with many others — that mental health and other issues often overlap in cases of addiction.

“It’s really heart-wrenching. Between the social media and the loneliness epidemic — it all seems to create this perfect storm where people are sicker than ever,” Young said.

Young expressed concern for the situation and called for more to be done. But he also pointed out that there is little appetite for new spending in Washington and that future efforts need to be cost-effective.

The Republican lawmaker appeared to reference Gov. Eric Holcomb’s legislative desire to increase spending for mental health treatment by the state.

“I have not been able to understand, for example, why we don’t have enough in-treatment bed space for mental health conditions and haven’t for a long time. I can’t figure this out. Why is this not a priority? But suddenly, the state is beginning to ask the hard questions and dedicate the resources to this,” Young said.

Whitaker raised the issue of officer safety when responding to drug overdoses likely involving fentanyl, which now comes in the form of pills, and powder and sometimes is mixed with marijuana.

He pointed to recent cases in which officer come across a power that may well be fentanyl. e talked about new technology that can quickly detect the presence of fentanyl that could greatly benefit police. Those devices currently cost about $40,000.

Thallemer said the city can’t afford to provide all patrol officers with the equipment, but thinks it is needed.

Young had a frank response.

“I’ve never heard of this device and never thought critically of the exposure situation,” Young told the group.

Thursday’s stop in Warsaw was part of a tour across northern Indiana and it marked the second time this week that he’s met with police.

In this view of the roundtable discussion, Sen. Todd Young is seen in the middle with his back to the camera. He’s flanked by Kosciusko County Commissioner Cary Groninger on the left and Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer on the right. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
Sen. Todd Young is seen in the middle talking at a roundtable with law enforcement on Thursday in Warsaw.. He’s flanked by Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer on the left and Kosciusko County Commissioner Cary Groninger. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
Sen. Todd Young (center) listens to Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer on the left as Kosciusko County Commissioner Cary Groninger watches. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.