‘Sys­tems aren’t com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other’

Cal­gary ini­tia­tive push­ing po­lice, health agen­cies to work more closely to com­bat meth cri­sis

StarMetro Calgary - - FRONT PAGE - Full story at thes­tar.co/cal­gary

Over the last five years, meth use in Cal­gary has bal­looned to the point where it ri­vals the use of crack co­caine in the 1990s, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, which has left lo­cal ser­vices scram­bling to re­spond to the spread of the ad­dic­tive drug.

The Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice re­ported on Thurs­day that it has seen the num­ber of drug seizures in­volv­ing meth in­crease sev­en­fold in the last five years, from 142 in 2013 to 1,043 last year.

Metham­phetamine is a highly ad­dic­tive, il­le­gal drug that gives users an in­creased sense of well­be­ing, which also can lead to in­creased ag­gres­sion, psy­chosis, and po­ten­tial heart and brain dam­age. Po­lice say they have seen a resur­gence in re­cent years be­cause it’s now cheaper than sim­i­lar drugs.

The Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice is try­ing to get a han­dle on the is­sue with a new pro­gram called the Day­light Ini­tia­tive, which at­tempts to crack down on deal­ers while get­ting units with the de­part­ment to co-or­di­nate bet­ter on their re­sponse to the drug. Cal­gary po­lice are also try­ing to share in­for­ma­tion and work more closely with lo­cal health agen­cies and so­cial sup­ports.

On Thurs­day, Cal­gary po­lice an­nounced the first re­sults from the ini­tia­tive: a three-week, street-level in­ves­ti­ga­tion in De­cem­ber that re­sulted in 32 peo­ple be­ing charged with 172 of­fences re­lated to meth, heroin, co­caine, and fen­tanyl traf­fick­ing.

One of the peo­ple ar­rested in the Day­light Ini­tia­tive is Na­talie Pasqua, 37, who is now fac­ing two drug-re­lated charges. She made head­lines back in 2009 when she pleaded guilty to push­ing a teenager in front of a CTrain two years ear­lier.

Insp. Kevin Forsen said Cal­gary’s prob­lem with meth is the worst drug is­sue he has seen in the city since crack co­caine in the mid-1990s.

“I think what’s hap­pened re­cently is the avail­abil­ity. It’s not a har­vestable drug, so there’s no need to wait for an off-cy­cle,” Forsen said. “Peo­ple can man­u­fac­ture it, so that’s a fac­tor. And be­cause it’s man­u­fac­tured, you can set the price. The pric­ing has dropped to the low­est I’ve ever seen it. So peo­ple can spend very lit­tle money and re­ceive enough metham­phetamine to be high for days.”

“THE PRIC­ING HAS DROPPED TO THE LOW­EST I’VE EVER SEEN IT.” Insp. Kevin Forsen Cal­gary po­lice of­fi­cer

BREN­NAN DO­HERTY/STARMETRO CAL­GARY

Cal­gary po­lice re­ported on Thurs­day that the num­ber of drug seizures in­volv­ing meth in­crease sev­en­fold in the last five years.

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