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Learning the ins and outs of meth

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Police have busted more than 120 meth labs across the Mountain State so far in 2013.

"For the life of me, I can't understand why someone would put those chemicals in your body," said Sgt. Michael Baylous, with the West Virginia State Police.

But people do, and at an alarming rate, according to Sgt. Baylous. Which is why the WVSP offered a training course to officers across the state. At the end of the week, these men and women become certified meth technicians.

The California-based company, NES, taught nearly 40 people how to identify meth labs, as well as how to protect themselves in the face of deadly toxins.

Patrolman B.D. Tice traveled from Elkins to take the course.

"I responded to one just a week ago," said Tice, who noted that meth has become a popular drug in Randolph County. "I didn't have a full aspect of what it was until I took the class."

"Years ago, your typical field trooper would respond to these and deal with these without any real training," Sgt. Baylous said.

Half of the meth labs busted this year involved shake-and-bake operations, troopers said. Instructors said shake-and-bake pose a huge threat to officers due to the unpredictability of the chemicals inside. They added the contents burn through body suits officers wear to protect themselves during meth busts, rendering them useless.

NES is the first company to provide meth training at State Police Academy in Institute, W.Va.

In the past, the WVSP has sent officers out-of-state to receiving training, according to Sgt. Baylous.