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Authorities investigating options for cleaning up meth house

Lawton_The Lawton home where officers were involved with a standoff with a meth user on Wednesday night has been declared a health hazard to neighbors.  The man who held officers at bay for more than two hours will not face charges in connection with the standoff since he didn't break any laws.  That's despite evidence of meth use at the location.  Investigators say there was a strong meth lab odor, but they did not find any drugs at Alan Henley's home on Caber Circle on Lawton's east side. 

Police say they have pulled two meth labs out of the home over the past year, and they say they believe the labs' toxic chemicals have damaged the house permanently.  Now, they are investigating legal options to clean it up.  Henley owns the home rather than renting it, which may make it difficult for the city to force him to relocate or clean the meth residue inside.  Neighbors say they hope something can be done, and they wonder what it will take to get action.

"We take the meth labs away from them, they bond out of jail and they go back," said Lawton Police Chief Ronnie Smith.  "Now we're in the same position - they're going to go right back and do it again.  That's been proven - we've taken two meth labs out of there."  Although no meth labs were found this time, the damage from the toxic chemicals may already be done.  "They get into the carpet, into the clothes, they get into any materials," said Smith.  They can get into the walls, into the insulation, and it's really hard to get it out."

Meth has a strong odor and neighbor Tiffany Gonzalez said she could smell it.  "Whenever the garage opens, and stuff, there's a real funny smell," she said.  "I've never smelled anything like it."  Smelling too much of it could be devastating.  "Some meth cooks, you can walk in and take one whiff and it will kill you," said Smith. 

Toxic odors, high traffic, and strange behavior are all things neighbors say they witness often.  "I don't know what sane person would like run around in the street, like just run around in circles," said neighbor Chantay Potts.  "I would like to see them, the man, or whoever lives there, leave or go somewhere else without all the commotions happening so us kids can play outside and have fun without being scared."

Chief Smith says something has to be done.  "We're going to bust them, and we're going to continue to bust them.  We're getting them out of our neighborhoods," he said.  "We've got to stop this."

Lawton's Public Nuisance Ordinance applies to landlords who allow - or don't stop - illegal activity from occurring on their property.  The ordinance doesn't apply in this case since there isn't a landlord.  However, Chief Smith says the department will continue to investigate other legal remedies to clean up the house.  This year, Oklahoma lawmakers considered a bill that would require landlords to clean up meth labs and disclose the information to future tenants.  It failed to get enough support, but will be reintroduced in 2009.

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