Ohio police offer to test residents’ meth for Zika
In a recent Facebook post, the Gratis, Ohio, Police Department issues a warning and makes an offer:
“WARNING: If you have recently purchased Meth in Preble, Montgomery, Darke or Butler Counties it may be contaminated with the Zika Virus. Please bring it to the Gratis Police Department and we will test it for free. If you’re not comfortable coming into our office, please contact us and we’ll test your Meth in the privacy of your home.
Disclaimer: methamphetamine can be a host for the zika virus.”
Can meth really be a host for Zika? No, the virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Has anyone taken the police up on their offer? No.
So what, then? “Make a catchy post, people see it, people share it,” Assistant Police Chief Dennis Blankenship said.
The unusual post carries an underlying message for this rural community where meth usage has spiked, according to law enforcement. It’s a platform for help.
“I have no intention on arresting anyone this way,” Blankenship said. “My goal is not to throw someone in jail over this. I hope to use it to start those in need to seek treatment.”
Blankenship plans to go back to the post with an edit that will include rehab facilities in the area and different ways to get treatment. “A lot of places are super-hard on drug addicts,” he said. “We want to offer help.”
The post has gotten more than 5,000 shares and more than 2,000 comments. Not bad for a department that was averaging 500 to 1,000 views a day, according to Blankenship.
“Our job as a police department, not only toss people in jail, it’s to protect people and help change people minds.”