Bath salt related incidents are on the rise in areas of Central New York and the Mohawk Valley. Our Sarah Blazonis talked to law enforcement officials who say the drug is posing unique challenges for officers.
NEW YORK STATE -- The scene that unfolded in Munnsville Tuesday night is a reminder of a new danger officers could have to deal with on any given day. Officers say a woman, incoherent and growling, violently attacked several people, including her son and a State Trooper. Police say bath salts are likely to blame.
Officials say its use is growing in popularity across the state, including in Herkimer, Madison and Oneida counties.
"They're combative, they're just a totally different person than they are on a normal day," said Herkimer County Sheriff Christopher Farber.
"We're learning every day the traditional drugs that our narcotics people are used to dealing with certainly has gone to a whole new level," said Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol.
Sheriffs say even when a suspect is taken into custody, safety continues to be an issue.
"It's a huge responsibility for us. Most of the time, we don't know what they've taken, what they're on or how they're going to react to anything," said Sheriff Farber.
Officials say it's a hard drug to keep up with because manufacturers routinely change its chemical makeup to get around laws making old compounds illegal.
Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley says it's important to get more feet on the ground to combat the problem, something easier said than done.
"It's very hard to keep up the patrols and to start this war on drugs again as the state puts more mandates on the sheriff's offices and stuff. It's just harder to keep our budget in place," said Sheriff Riley.
Sheriffs point to examples like Tuesday's multi-agency bust of two dozen meth manufacturers as one solution to overcoming budget constraints.
"We've put away territories and boundaries and all that stuff. We work together very closely for the common goal of bringing these drug users, drug dealers into the system so that we can make our communities safe," said Maciol.
And take a drug off the street that makes a risky job that much more unpredictable.