Morden Police talk drug awareness

Morden Police Service K9 unit Chase stops and signals to handler Const. Scott Edwards that she has found drugs at a drug awareness night on May 22. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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The Morden Police Service is hoping members of the community are a bit more informed about drugs, their effects and the consequences after holding a drug awareness night last week.

Const. Scott Edwards and Const. Devin Bell were at Ecole Morden Middle School on May 22 to speak to parents and kids alike about drug awareness in the community.

“It had been a few years since we had our last one,” Edwards said. “Sharing information with a group of new parents who have young people in this community that they care for and want to make sure that they make the right choices, informing themselves by coming to a night like this is an important piece.”

Edwards said one of the current trends the police service has seen lately has been the adjustment to cannabis legalization.

“It not only took the community some time to adjust to, but also our officers,” he said. “For someone that’s policed for ten years and it being an illegal and controlled substance to now it not being illegal, it’s a bit of a learning curve for our officers. We are trying to combat that issue and inform not only our officers but the community about the legislation.”

Since the legislation changed, Edwards said the police haven’t had a lot of cannabis seizures, but it’s something they are still learning about and adapting to.

Another trend, as with communities across the country, is the prevalence of methamphetamine. “It’s becoming quickly a North American issue,” Edwards said. “We’re not immune to that.”

Edwards said Morden Police have had some success in seizing meth and laying charges against traffickers in the area. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to be complacent,” he said. “We’re going to continue to investigate.”

Edwards said Morden is fortunate that since it is a smaller city, the information sharing is better than in larger places like Winnipeg.

“Being a police officer in a small community, you know a lot of people and you know a lot of people right off the bat that are involved in illegal activities,” he said. “We kind of have a leg up on a bigger centre, it’s not as easy to hide here.”

One of the problems with meth is that it can be laced into other drugs, and users may not even know that they are ingesting meth at the time.

Bell said during the presentation that even the Drug Enforcement Administration in the United States isn’t sure what to do about the crisis.

One thing Edwards and Bell pointed out during their presentation was how easy drugs can be to come by. Drugs like shatter, a cannabis concentrate that can contain up to 80 per cent THC content (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis), can be purchased online.

That THC content makes shatter up to five times stronger than typical cannabis. Because of its potency, shatter is not a legal form of cannabis in Canada. Of course, that doesn’t mean it can’t be bought online.

This ease of purchase and delivery led to one of the Morden Police Service’s easiest drug seizures last year as $5,000 worth of shatter was found shipped to the wrong house.

The presentation wrapped up with a demonstration from Chase, Morden Police Service’s K9 unit. Chase successfully sniffed out hidden drugs from various potential hiding places in the EMMS gym.
Edwards has been working as Chase’s handler for over four years now.

“She’s another member of our team,” Edwards said. “She’s a great tool in our tool belt, especially with drug investigations. She’s good at what she does.”

Edwards said being informed and knowing what to look for is a good place to start for members of the community to keep themselves safe. “Also not being afraid to share suspicious activity with us,” he said. “Sometimes things that don’t seem important to certain people might be very important to us. It could be a very small piece of information but we’re always willing to listen.”

To parents, Edwards said to stay engaged with their kids. “Be willing to listen and talk to them, especially early on, about potential negative consequences for getting involved in certain drugs,” he said.