WASHINGTON -- Responding to a flood of requests, the National American
Indian Housing Council is expanding its training on dealing with
methamphetamine use in tribal housing by launching a new Crime Prevention
and Safety Program.
NAIHC has hired a full-time staff person to manage this program, which
entails training and the development of additional new courses designed to
help tribes and their tribally designated housing entities, or TDHEs, deal
with the growing meth problem in Indian housing.
The use and illicit manufacture of meth is becoming a major plague in
Indian country. The average cost to decontaminate a home that has been used
as a meth lab is nearly $10,000, according to the High Intensity Drug
Trafficking Area Office. The human cost of meth addiction is even more
devastating: meth users suffer from edginess, paranoia, agitation and
hallucinations. Meth abuse impacts the community as well, with increases in
domestic violence, child abuse and homicide.
"The production and use of meth is a danger not only to the individual
doing it, but to the entire community surrounding them," said NAIHC
Chairman Chester Carl. "NAIHC wants to provide tribal communities with the
tools to combat this growing problem. This problem, if not addressed
properly, robs our Native American youth of their future."
These new courses will be tailored to each region, to provide the most
current information available from the narcotics divisions of law
enforcement in that region, with specific statistics. For example,
different types of meth labs are "popular" in different states. While each
course will cover all types of labs, the trainer will target the most
prevalent types of labs in a given region.
NAIHC's current training on "Methamphetamine: A growing problem in tribal
housing" provides information on how to handle encounters with abusers and
how to clean up properties used for meth labs. This free training is
offered to regional Indian housing associations and groups of three or more
tribes/TDHEs located within close proximity of each other.
"NAIHC wants to do whatever is possible to assist tribes and TDHEs in
creating and maintaining not only safe, quality affordable homes, but also
safe, healthy, comfortable communities," said NAIHC Executive Director Gary
Participants in the training will come to understand:
* What a meth lab is, the dangers it poses, and the costs it may entail;
* Types of illegal meth labs, specifically targeted to the participant's
* How and why meth labs are an epidemic in Indian country;
* How to identify warning signs that a meth lab may be in a tribal housing
* How to safely deal with a running meth lab in a tribal housing unit;
* Whom to notify and when;
* What the health risks are for investigators, and how they can protect
* How to develop identification and prevention programs;
* Who is responsible for cleanup of a meth lab found in a tribal housing
* How to safely clean up a meth lab.
"The response to the meth training really took us by surprise," said
NAIHC's Special Projects Director, John Seignemartin. "We budgeted for nine
training seminars, and we have already completed 13 since April 2005 with
another 12 scheduled through the end of the year." So far, almost 900
people have attended these trainings. The response and feedback from those
attending has been overwhelmingly positive: "Our membership wanted this
training, and we are responding to those needs."
FINDING AND CLEANING UP METH LABS
The inspector training program for meth labs currently being developed by
NAIHC will be an important addition to NAIHC's new Crime Prevention and
Safety Program, according to Jay Barton, NAIHC's new technical
assistance/training specialist. "We have taken the first steps to make
tribal housing entities aware of meth and have talked about the lab
clinics, but now we want to take it a step further so that tribal housing
employees inspecting houses are better trained, better prepared and have
better knowledge of what they are dealing with." NAIHC hopes to roll this
new training out in early 2006.
TRIBES GAIN VALUABLE INFORMATION ON CRIME TRACKING
In the upcoming year, NAIHC will develop a new course, focused on how to
track criminal activity within Indian housing. NAIHC wants to help tribal
housing entities track criminal activity and help train them on how to
report the information. This can be done through training on how to
research crime trends and teaching techniques to establish better working
relationships with local law enforcement agencies/departments.
A high priority for these new NAIHC training sessions is to obtain better
statistics on meth prevalence in Indian country. The High Intensity Drug
Trafficking Area, a branch of the Drug Enforcement Agency, wants to get
more data on these issues. "More accurate data will provide justification
for further resources for [crime prevention and meth-related programs]
within Indian housing" said Gordon.
Tribally designated housing entities or tribes desiring more information on
NAIHC's free meth training seminars and/or on the new Crime Prevention and
Safety classes should call John Seignemartin at (800) 284-9165, ext. 105.