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In-state Treatment Center to Open for Officers Exposed to Meth



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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- An in-state center to help police officers sick due to exposure to methamphetamine labs is expected to open soon.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who has pushed for local availability to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Program, says he hopes Utah officers will be going through a center here within 30 days.

A closed drug-detox facility in Orem will house the program, and a nonprofit corporation is being formed to run the center, Shurtleff said.

Shurtleff had hoped the Legislature would allocate money to help fund the center, but instead legislators invited the program to apply for grants available from existing state programs for treatment of meth addiction, he said.

The center is being fueled by $20,000 in private donations.

The 30-day program was developed in New York City four years ago for workers at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

It typically costs as much as $5,000 per person but Utah's officers and firefighters with illnesses related to meth exposure will go through it free of charge, Shurtleff said.

"I've committed to that. They're sick because of the job they were willing to do for us, and I don't think it's appropriate to charge them for treatment," he said.

More than 50 Utah police officers have workers compensation claims pending with the state over meth exposure. Three claimants died last summer, their attorneys have said.

It is estimated that more than 80 former narcotics officers around the state have been stricken with respiratory, nerve and other problems, including cancers, believed linked to meth.

Officers tearing down meth labs have donned air tanks and fully enclosed Tyvek "moon suits" as standard practice only in the last five to 10 years.

Pleasant View Police Chief Scott Jackson traveled to New York City to go through the program from Jan. 23 through Feb. 23.

Jackson, who headed up the Kane County drug strike force in the 1990s, said he has no meth-related symptoms from his days as a drug officer, but volunteered to test the program to see if it's legitimate. He says he's sold.

The program is described as a combination of exercise, sauna time and consumption of enormous amounts of fluids, especially water, plus different oils and various vitamin and nutrient supplements in liquid form. The results of the regime can show up in purple, even black-tinted sweat as toxins are eliminated by the body, proponents say.

Shurtleff said more than 800 Ground Zero police officers, firefighters and others have been successfully treated by the program in New York City.

Jackson said the roughly 20 people who went through the treatment with him earlier this year were all sick, he said, unlike himself.

"I almost felt guilty ... but I saw drastic improvements in all those I went through with. I was totally impressed," Jackson said.

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Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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