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Police Chief: Legislation has helped curb bath salts incidents

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - It began as the summer of bath salts in the city of Utica as the synthetic drug prompted bizarre behavior in users.

Police would find them naked, in strangers' living rooms, and swinging at doctors and nurses in emergency rooms. As many as two to three arrests a day strained a Utica Police Department plagued by budget and staff cuts.

After July, though, police say they have seen a marked decrease in arrests, and, apparently, usage.

"We've basically gone three months and we've only had one incident," says Utica Police Chief Mark Williams.

Part of the reason for the burgeoning bath salt arrests in Utica was the fact that surrounding communities, including Rome and Herkimer, were first to criminalize them. This drove their customer base to Utica. In July, the Utica Common Council made it illegal to possess or sell bath salts in the city. In addition, stores were raided and, according to police, bath salts found. Healthcare workers got educated on the new synthetic drug and all of these things contributed to the fall of bath salts.

There is relief, but not complacency, on the part of the chief.

"Between education, and clamping down with these details and getting everything on board I think we've contained it, but when you say that, you worry about where they're going to get it next or what's going to be the new synthetic drug," says Chief Williams.

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