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Police Chief: Effort to remove synthetic drugs from Abilene a 'tremendous success'

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:41:25 AM CST   Updated On: Sep 26 2013 07:17:05 PM CDT

Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge called the effort to remove synthetic drugs from the Abilene community a "tremendous success."

In June, the city of Abilene's Planning and Zoning Department introduced an ordinance that would force head shops to relocate to industrial or commercial areas of town.  It was passed unanimously by City Council, giving head shops four months to make the decision to stop selling items that would qualify them as a head shop or they would have to move, away from schools, churches, parks, hospitals or other head shops.

Since the crackdown nearly four months ago, nine of the 10 shops in violation have complied. None have applied to relocate, according to Planning and Zoning. One shop remains. Mr. Nice Guys on Butternut Street has just a few weeks to make the decision.

Standridge said the shops have been very cooperative, and they have had an open dialogue with that particular shop.

"They're not selling anything that we believe is prohibited," Standridge said.

The patrol division has seen a significant decrease in the number of calls related to the products since the ordinance was passed.

"The decrease is dramatic," Standridge said. "We were for a long time dealing with these issues daily and now it is incredible infrequent to the point that the patrol division has been able to focus on other things."

He said the effect has spread throughout our area.

"I'm happy to say that Region 6 is no longer suffering from these substances," he said.

Dr. Joe Jenkins, an emergency physician with Hendrick Medical Center, said he's also seen a huge decrease in the number of patients being admitted after using fake marijuana. He started at the hospital in April.

"My first few months here I was probably seeing several cases a week. Three to four cases at least," Jenkins said. "Probably in the past month and a half I've seen maybe one case."

He said that helps everyone.

"I'd rather not have to spend my resources trying to sedate somebody who voluntarily took some K-2 when I have somebody who's having a heart attack next door that I can't get to because I'm wrapped up in this room," said Jenkins.

Standridge said the department will not stop keeping an eye out for possible possession, though.

"We will continue to evaluate anything that's brought into this community and sold under the pretense that it's legal," he said.