Ham and the Meth Head

As a reporter, I usually hated making the cop run. It’s when reporters go to the police station to gather a tally on who was arrested, what accidents occurred and what reports of interest have been filed. It’s dealing with the real underbelly of society, but at times interesting.

Years ago, I was taking notes as an officer for the Springdale Police Department was explaining why a woman had been charged with a crime for purchasing the ingredients to make meth. He listed off items she had bought at the local Wal-Mart. They included things like lighter fluid, pseudoephedrine and other ridiculous things the drug-addicted will mix together for the crazy concoction.

As he neared the end of the list, I heard from behind a shout, “Don’t forget the ham.”

I ignored it, but she said it again.

“Don’t forget the ham.”

The woman was handcuffed to the bench when I came in, but I hadn’t paid any attention, until now. As I turned and looked at her, I saw a woman with an open sore she had obviously picked at on one cheek, discolored teeth, straggly hair and grubby clothes. It couldn’t be the 26-year-old the officer had apprehended.

“I was just getting stuff for dinner, stuff for the house,” she said.

“Shut up, we know what you were getting,” the officer said.

“Well just don’t forget the ham.”

I couldn’t say a thing to her. I was shocked. She looked to be at least 40 years old. I stared.

She pulled at her handcuffed wrist and looked up at me. “Don’t forget the ham.”

I nodded and added it to the list in my reporter’s pad.

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6 thoughts on “Ham and the Meth Head

  1. First thanks for the candid article and the tragedy of that and other potent drugs. Yes, I purposely left an opening for Marijuana because I think enforcement of all laws seem to be in many cases, adversarial. In fact, chaining an offender to a bench and looked down upon for being a Meth Head is wrong.

    I think the real problem may be that this is in fact an illness. What young lady would purposely forfeit 20 years of youth for a drug? The fact that she has been totally scarred by this drug and so, where is the help?

    I can’t watch Cops but when I did, you would see the remarkable cop who actually liked his clients. I say that because I heard a probation officer in Tampa call a bunch of convicts, miscreants. I called the office the very next day and the person there was shocked.

    Some times the suspects are mentally ill, suffer from autism, aphasia or some other exotic illness, that can make a police officer’s job one of the hardest in the world. At the same time, cops should be a force for good. Enforcing current laws but with class and the dignity of a suspect.

    When I see officers being condescending towards their clients, then I want to smack them around a bit. And to the officer that hears people and treats them with dignity, then he is a model officer. I know many get burned out, but as in your story, the cop was being rude. ‘innocent until proven guilty’, right?

    This young woman has lost her youth, her innocence and self-esteem. I only wish that treatment was effective, because the ham is burning in the oven.

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    • You are absolutely right. I saw this as a somewhat funny incident, but in reality, it represents a sad case of addiction. And, unfortunately, so many try this drug and are addicted immediately, soon head down a path of self destruction. What surprises me in knowing a number of law enforcement is how so many agree that drug addiction should lead to treatment and that just locking up the offenders is often the worst thing that can happen to them. I’m interested to see what happens with the proposed changes in sentencing for drug crimes.
      I also believe that marijuana should be legalized, become a tax-generating source and used for its medical benefits.
      Thanks for reading!

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      • You are very welcome and I did enjoy it and for the life of me, the drug wars and the money spent on it, could be spent on treatment and humanity. I am going to do a blog about a rude black man and what he did last night. My girlfriend is black and she knows how I feel about one being insulated from responsibility because of melanin.

        I believe that every life is valuable and regardless of what a criminal did, he should be safe in jail. I remember seeing an episode of TV about a police officer being beaten by a man and the other inmates stop the perp. All because the deputy was so well liked on the unit. Courtesy matters..

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  2. Reblogged this on Joe Isuzu, we miss you! and commented:
    I added my two cents which are random and I am no expert but at the heart of this is a human being. A young woman whose life will never be the safe and she should get sympathy and empathy for the struggle by people who have been there and done that.

    Thanks,
    Larry

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  3. How very sad, but not at all surprising. I once did an interview in the county jail with a group of men in for drug offenses. They were those involved in the sheriff’s work program. I found most of them charming, polite and confused. This was before the terrible scourge of Meth. These guys were well on their way, though, because most were already addicted. It kept me thinking for a long while about the tragedy of drugs in our society.
    My husband made friends with a guy in the drug program when Marilyn Gunn had that program. They met in the same building as our writers’ group. He was a family man whose wife was pregnant with their second child. Again, someone on his way down because of drugs.
    Thanks for posting this. Will we never have a wake up call in this country?

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