Vail officer to lead rural meth fight
Vail, CO Colorado
Officer aims to tackle rural meth problem
VAIL, Colorado– The Colorado Meth Project’s television advertising campaign depicting emaciated teens strung out on methamphetamines is just one sign that Colorado is trying to stop drug addiction before it starts.
A new federal program, called the Rural Law Enforcement Meth Initiative, is now targeting the law enforcement side of methamphetamine problems in rural communities – like Eagle County – in seven states, including Colorado.
The person heading up the program in Colorado is Vail police officer Nicola Erb. Erb is a part-time officer in Vail and has more than 20 years of experience working with methamphetamines throughout her law enforcement career.
“I’ve really seen the devastation of methamphetamines and all drugs on families and communities,” Erb said. “Anything I can contribute through my years of experience (is how I can help fight the problem).”
Erb said there isn’t a huge methamphetamine problem in Vail or in Eagle County, but that the valley’s geography means problems could easily to arise. It’s a transient community, and there’s a major interstate running through the valley, making it harder to keep drugs out, she said.
Erb said local law enforcement always need to keep their guards up because of the community’s transient nature.
While Erb’s new role isn’t directly related to her work as a Vail police officer, she plans to bring back tools for local law enforcement to use in order to combat methamphetamine cases locally.
The resources in rural areas can be scarce, which is why Erb’s goal is to help find ways that help local police handle methamphetamine issues better. She said she’s passionate about the subject, which is why she’s looking forward to the next two years as the state’s meth coordinator.
She’ll be working with a state group beginning in June, called the State Action Team, to develop plans for rural communities and their fight to keep drugs out.
Colorado ranks eighth in the country for total number of meth users age 12 and older, according to data from the Colorado Meth Project, a nonprofit focused on reducing methamphetamine use in the state.
Because methamphetamine use affects rural America in particular, according to U.S. Department of Justice drug statistics, it puts a strain on already limited and over-burdened law enforcement, treatment programs and public health resources.
Erb said the initiative isn’t saying that the state has a methamphetamine epidemic in rural areas, but one of the initiative’s goals is to make sure it doesn’t become one, she said.
“Whenever you sit back on your laurels, that’s when something’s going to become a problem,” Erb said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.