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An Open Letter from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff
Utah leads the nation in reducing the number of dangerous methamphetamine labs over the last seven years but that success came at a heavy price. Many of the police officers, who voluntarily went into these toxic homes to make Utah safer, are suffering ill effects from the harmful chemicals they encountered in those labs.
Having witnessed myself the heroic attitude of our police officers, I felt that we could not stand by as a community while those who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect us were becoming ill. I decided that something needed to be done.
In the fall of 2007, I helped launch the Utah Meth Cops Project, the first detoxification program of its kind to help first responders exposed to illicit drug labs. The Utah Meth Cops Project uses the Hubbard™ sauna detoxification method, the same protocol used by the Ground Zero Rescue Workers Detoxification Project. The New York project has been around since 2002 and has successfully helped around 1,000 Ground Zero workers.
Numerous chiefs of police and sheriffs rallied behind the cause and gave their full support to the program and to their men. Many of those leaders deserve recognition, they are: Chief McGuire of West Jordan, Chief Chapman of Sandy, Chief Fondaco of Murray, Chief Nielsen of West Valley, Chief Geslison of Provo, Sheriff Winder of Salt Lake County, Sheriff Slater of Weber County, Chief Smith of Washington county, and many more.
Very early in the delivery of the project, the physician and staff noticed that police officers who had been exposed to meth labs were suffering from a cluster of symptoms not seen to such a dramatic extent in "non-meth cops" or in the civilian population. Those symptoms include frequent headaches, severe acid reflux and esophageal problems, joint pain, insomnia, depression and others.
I am very proud to announce that the Utah Meth Cops Project has celebrated its 93rd completion. The success of this program has been no less than impressive. We have seen a significant reduction of symptoms and a remarkable improvement in overall health and well being. Many of the officers’ testimonials have been posted under the success section of this website. I hope that you will take a minute to read them. It is our hope to assist the rest of Utah exposed police officers this year, and to start bringing relief to exposed officers from other states.
No less severe is the exposure suffered by firefighters to the same meth labs, and our brave soldiers to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. They too need our help. This year, we are launching the Heroes Health Project to assist National Guardsmen, war veterans and firefighters regain their quality of life.
Due to the financial circumstances of these brave officers, firefighters and soldiers, made worse by ill health, we have committed to make this program available to them free of charge. The state of Utah and the federal government have generously provided the foundation with some grants, but in these times of economical woes we must look beyond the government for help and thus we are reaching out to the community, looking for financial support. It is our intention to provide the detoxification program to affected first responders who would like to participate. I am certain that you will want to be a part of a program that will help improve the lives of these often unsung heroes. This is why I am asking you to join me in the support of this charitable program.