Crackdown on Crime - PCP Use Climbs in the Lake Area

By Marty Briggs - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - PCP.  It's a street drug that's been around since the 1950's.  It was first used as an anesthetic, but due to its severe side effects, its development for human use was discontinued.  The drug is known for inducing violent behavior, as well as negative physical reactions such as seizures, coma, and even death.  In tonight's Crackdown on Crime, Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon says a rise in the use of PCP locally has caused a dramatic increase in crime.

In his nearly 40 years in law enforcement, Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon says the current problem with PCP is one of the worst he's seen.  "PCP is a very major concern because of what it does to the person and the way they act, the bizarre behavior.  Either they're going to hurt a civilian, or the civilian is going to hurt them or they're going to hurt the police or the police is going to hurt them, and I don't want to see that happen," says Dixon.

In its original state, PCP is a white powder.  However, it also comes in liquid form, and that's what has infiltrated the Lake Charles market.  "The common method here is to dip a marijuana cigarette into the liquid form and then smoke it.  It just makes them feel invincible.  It makes them feel paranoid -- that's why they take their clothes off -- and totally uncooperative.  When our officers pull up and somebody is on the 'wet,' as we call it, when they're on the 'wet', we know we've got a fight."

Dixon says the spike in PCP use increased immediately after Hurricane Ike, and that much of the supply comes from California.  He says there's been at least one arrest per week since then due to PCP use.  Dixon says you can tell if someone is using the drug because of slurred speech and loss of coordination, which is accompanied by a sense of strength and invulnerability. "We've been fortunate so far that we have not had to hurt somebody, other than tasing them, that more of our officers haven't been hurt, but if it continues, something bad is going to happen," adds Dixon.

Dixon suggests that a nude man arrested on a busy Lake Charles street a couple of weeks ago was allegedly under the influence of the drug at the time of his arrest.  "Our concern is to get that person help.  Obviously, if they're breaking into cars or doing some type of criminal thing, when we show up, we're there to try and get them off the street before they hurt somebody or they hurt themselves, and get them to the hospital."

The effects of PCP on a person can last anywhere from 4-to-6 hours.

Chief Dixon says he's noticed PCP use among all races and in all geographic areas of Lake Charles.  The one-ounce form of liquid PCP can be bought for around $150, and can be used to coat approximately five marijuana cigarettes.