Officer safety and awareness were the ultimate goal when the Village of Barnesville hosted a narcotics and gang awareness training on March 20th at the library annex. The event was free and open to all law enforcement and school resource officers. Speakers for the event included: Bureau of Criminal Investigation Meth Unit Special Agent Supervisor, Scott Duff; BCI Special Agent Supervisor, Southeast District Narcotics, Mick Gyurko; Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections  Security Threat Group Coordinator, Scott Randolph and Martins Ferry Police and Belmont County Drug Task Force, Chief John McFarland.
Barnesville Village Councilman and Noble Correctional Institution employee, Scott Gallagher who organized the training, said safety of officers and first responders was the goal of the three-hour training. Local attendees included Barnesville Police Chief David Norris, officers, school resource officers, mayor Ron Bischof, fire chief Bob Smith and Barnesville Elementary School principal Clint Abbott. Officers attended from Washington County, Martins Ferry and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in Belmont and Noble counties.
“This is no longer an inner city problem,” said Scott Randolph Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections  Security Threat Group Coordinator when addressing the topic of gangs. His warnings that officers in this part of Ohio would be seeing more gang activity, were echoed by Scott Duff when he spoke about the rising problem of meth production and addiction.
Duff said use of the one-pot or “shake and bake” method has revolutionized the making of meth and began appearing in 2004 and is the most popular method in Ohio and the United States. The process uses ordinary medicinal and household products and is extremely volatile.
“The one-pot method has changed the way we respond. It has changed the garments we wear,” Duff said, adding that the suits the BCI uses cost $1,800 each. “We are constantly trying to develop ways to not have to touch these things,” Duff said.
He showed those attending a video of what happens when lithium (found in batteries) reacts with water (called rolling) in the meth making process. When the lithium drops in the bottle it can easily rupture and explode. “It is a big problem for firefighters,” Duff said. “I can’t tell you how many people end up in burn units across the state [from meth production]. We get weekly calls from Ohio fire departments.”
Duff said the one-pot method allows producers to make meth on the go in backpacks, cars, campers, mobile homes, motel and hotel rooms and houses. “This happens in urban, suburban and rural locations. There are very few large scale labs now. Most are in homes and that makes it more difficult for law enforcement,” he said.
Duff cautioned officers responding to any calls to be aware of what is going on in homes. “Pay attention to what you are seeing and where you are seeing it as a whole,” he said. He said the “unknown” liquids created in the production process are the biggest fear for responding officers. “The number one way law enforcement gets hurt is by inhaling things they shouldn’t,” Duff said.
He said child endangerment from meth labs in homes is “still a huge problem” as well.
“There are tons of resources in this state on how to deal with meth,” Duff said, noting that some Martins Ferry officers are now trained in that area. “We are making headway in this part of the state,” he said. He told officers to looks for signs of meth production and then call the BCI.
“It is important that we smash these guys when they come in,” Gallagher said in introducing Lt. Scott Randolph who has more than 500 hours of gang and hate group training and 11 years of gang-related work experience. He spoke to those attending about the different gangs and hate groups, their ideology, symbols they use, tattoos, graffiti and their increases presence in Ohio.
Randolph said that in today’s society anybody and everybody could be a member of a gang or hate group. He said that under the Ohio Revised Code, proven gang activity can add two to eight years to any criminal charge.
Randolph said gangs have migrated to Ohio because of stricter gang laws in states such as California. In addition, members migrate from larger cities such as Columbus to smaller cities such as Zanesville because there is less police presence.
Randolph said gangs use youth and the signs of gang activity is not as blatant in smaller cities. He showed a slide of a photograph taken by Daily Jeffersonian photographer Mike Neilson of graffiti in Cambridge down by members of the Bloods. Randolph said graffiti served several purposes - to claim territory and announce an presence to scare residents and as a recruitment tools. He said it often comes in spurts.
“Gangs point people in the right direction for criminal activity,” Randolph said.  
He said gangs impact all other types of crimes. “There are key identifiers. You need to know what you are seeing and what gang it is coming from,” Randolph said.
He also talked about hybrid gangs,  hate groups and outlaw biker gangs.
Randolph said the Internet plays a huge part in the spread of hate groups. He said there were 36 different hate groups identified in Ohio.