FORT HOOD — Representatives from local law enforcement agencies met at Fort Hood on Tuesday to participate in a training summit on prescription drug abuse.
The summit, hosted at Club Hood, was organized and run by pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma LP, which manufactures a number of prescription drugs, including Oxycontin.
The training addressed a number of drug diversion issues such as prescription drug identification, lawful prescribing, and prevention of diversion, pharmacy theft and pharmaceutical counterfeiting.
“From our experience in teaching these classes, officers are seeing an increase of these kinds of drugs on the street,” said Edward Cartwright, a retired narcotics officer and associate director of law enforcement and education for Purdue.
This year, participating agencies included Fort Hood police and its Criminal Investigation Division; the Bell County Sheriff’s Department; Texas Fish and Wildlife; and the Killeen, Harker Heights, Belton and Morgan’s Point Resort police departments.
Lt. Carl Rinker, team chief of police investigation for Fort Hood, said training would help officers like himself deal with the challenges presented by prescription drug abuse.
Unlike illegal drugs, law enforcement must determine if the drugs possessed by potential suspects were obtained legitimately or illegally.
“We have to make sure we are getting the information we need without violating doctor-patient confidentiality,” he said.
Rinker said the kinds of prescription drugs abused by soldiers or their family members was a mixed bag, but mentioned that painkillers were common.
He attributed some of that to soldiers coming back from deployments with injuries.
Marc Whittaker, an agent with the CID’s Drug Suppression Taskforce, attended the training Tuesday.
He said many potential prescription drug abuse cases are referred to CID based on urinalysis tests.
He agreed with Rinker that part of the challenge of such cases is determining whether or not those drugs are legally prescribed or are being abused.
“It can be difficult for us to find out if it is legal,” he said.
Whittaker also said the training on identifying different drugs and trends was helpful to curbing abuse.
“Those who abuse these drugs are always trying to stay one step ahead of law enforcement,” Whittaker said.
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