Drug Paraphernalia More Common in Stores

Drug Paraphernalia More Common in Stores
Posted by CN Staff on December 01, 2002 at 12:11:31 PT
By Susan McRoberts, Staff Writer
Source: Pasadena Star-News
Whittier -- Arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia have doubled in Whittier and tripled in Santa Fe Springs in recent years, according to statistics released this week by the Whittier Police Department.Police attribute the increases to better training for officers. Meanwhile, owners of smoke shops where pipes and other implements are sold for tobacco but, according to police, are often used instead to smoke methamphetamine, marijuana and other drugs say they're seeing more liquor stores and other retail outlets selling items that used to be sold exclusively at smoke shops.
"People are looking to make money any way they can,' said one smoke-shop owner, who spoke on condition her name not be published.Inside an East Whittier smoke shop, large signs warn customers that the glass pipes and other products "are strictly for tobacco use. You will be asked to leave if there is any mention of illegal substances.' A Santa Fe Springs store manager, who likewise asked not to be identified, said six to eight stores nearby have started stocking smoke-shop products, including a liquor store, a jewelry store and a cigarette outlet, which has a small window case displaying glass, stone and ceramic pipes."It's turned into a street business,' the manager said. "These places are not keeping up with common business practices. There is no segregation of the product.'An Uptown clothing outlet this summer briefly displayed water pipes in the front window, among knickknacks and T-shirts. Whittier police ordered the items removed."We used to belong to a retailers association that monitored how and to whom these products were sold. That association fell apart, and now all sorts of people are selling this stuff,' said the Santa Fe Springs smoke-shop manager.Whittier police say arrests for drug paraphernalia possession a misdemeanor jumped from 28 in 1997 to 52 in 1999. In 2000, police made 54 such arrests, and 54 people also were arrested for the offense last year.Whittier is headed for a record number of paraphernalia arrests this year. In the first 10 months of this year, 96 people have been cited.In Santa Fe Springs, which is patrolled by the Whittier Police Department under a contract, only eight arrests were made in 1998 for paraphernalia possession. In 1999, there were 10.In 2000, the number tripled to 31. Last year, 38 people were arrested. In the first 10 months of 2002, 32 people were arrested for paraphernalia."It's a huge increase, but our officers are more aware of what to look for,' said Whittier police Officer Alan dela Pena, the department spokesman."It's a trend. More people are smoking meth rather than snorting it or shooting it up. Smoking has become much more common. Most of our paraphernalia is meth pipes,' he said.Officers are now better trained to spot someone under the influence, he added."There are officers who are proficient in making drug arrests and they are mentoring our newer officers,' dela Pena said. "Bottom line it's the training. It's the education.'More Whittier officers are attending the "11-5-50 school,' a three-day state-sponsored course that gets its title from the California Penal Code Health and Safety section that lists controlled substances."That school is a wealth of knowledge for any officer, and now we are starting to send officers to that class within their first year or two on the force,' dela Pena said.Note: Arrests increasing for possession of items.Source: Pasadena Star-News, The (CA)Author: Susan McRoberts Published: Saturday, November 30, 2002 Copyright: 2002 MediaNews Group, Inc. Contact: jim.lawitz sgvn.comWebsite: - Paraphernalia Archives
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