A Greenfield man was arrested Wednesday after he was allegedly found with a "mobile meth lab" in a bottle in his jacket pocket, while holding a 3-year-old child.
According to Greenfield Police Chief Tim Hester, at 10:18 a.m. a police officer on patrol stopped a vehicle in the 100 block of South Washington Street in Greenfield for failure to yield to a pedestrian.
"The officer observed indications of possible drug abuse by the occupants and checked the vehicle with a police K-9," Hester said. "The dog indicated the presence of narcotics in the vehicle. The officer had the driver, Jon Wright, 31, Greenfield, and passenger Christopher Jenkins, 34, Greenfield, exit the vehicle and stand on the sidewalk. Jenkins was holding (a) 3-year-old (child) in his arms. Inside the vehicle, the officer found drug paraphernalia and asked consent to search the occupants. While searching Jenkins, the officer located a bottle inside his jacket pocket containing a substance that appeared to be actively cooking methamphetamine, known as a mobile meth lab."
Hester said that while "still holding the child, Jenkins began resisting the officer. The officer attempted to control Jenkins, who then put the child down and starting fighting. Jenkins struck the officer in the face, causing injury to him, and then fled across the street, leaving the child behind. The officer pursued him, and Jenkins struck him again when he caught up. Jenkins was taken into custody with the assistance of a passing citizen. Another citizen stopped and watched over the child during the incident."
The mobile meth lab allegedly in Jenkins' possession is a method of creating meth known as "shake-and-bake meth," Hester said.
A report this week released by The Associated Press stated that the method is increasing the number of injuries associated with the already dangerous and volatile process of making meth.
"So-called shake-and-bake meth is produced by combining raw, unstable ingredients in a 2-liter soda bottle," according to the AP. "But if the person mixing the noxious brew makes the slightest error, such as removing the cap too soon or accidentally perforating the plastic, the concoction can explode, searing flesh and causing permanent disfigurement, blindness or even death."
Hester said that any production of methamphetamine is dangerous, but it is especially hazardous when it is being done in a coat pocket, in close proximity to a child.
"To have that in your coat pocket, while holding a small child, that's just insane," Hester said. "It would be very dangerous to have (a meth lab) set up in a garage or in a house where you can escape. If it ignites or explodes, there is no way you could avoid injury, especially if you're struggling with an officer with that in your pocket."
Hester said that had the bottle exploded while Jenkins had been holding the child, "that would have been a worst-case scenario."
Hester said that in Greenfield they have not seen a large increase in the number of "shake-and-bake meth" cases, but that, "it's not uncommon for us to come across them. This individual, in particular, was arrested last year for having the exact same thing in a van, sitting in a parking lot in a local gas station."
According to the Highland County Common Pleas Court website, Jenkins was indicted in September 2011 on one count of aggravated possession of drugs. He entered a guilty plea in December, with the court granting treatment in lieu of conviction and staying criminal proceedings.
The driver, Jon Wright, was arrested by other responding officers for fictitious tags, possession of drug paraphernalia and obstructing official business. Bond was set at $1,750.
Jenkins was charged with felony assault on a peace officer with bond set at $150,000. Additional charges are likely after the evidence is analyzed by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI).
BCI responded to the scene, along with Paint Creek Joint Fire and EMS District, to neutralize the chemicals in the meth lab.
Both men are being held in the Greenfield City Jail and will appear in Highland County Court in Greenfield on Friday.
Highland County Children Services responded to the scene and released the child to his mother after their investigation.
"I really do appreciate the citizens who responded to help the officer, and the lady who stopped to care for the child while the officer was pursuing the suspect," Hester said. "We really do appreciate the assistance, and that they put themselves in harm's way to help out. While we don't always expect that to happen, sometimes we need it, and it's appreciated."