SC police get trained to spot drugs & alcohol “high in plain sight”

Officer Jermaine Galloway holds a shirt that has a hidden drug reference.

COLUMBIA, S.C. —Nearly 200 South Carolina law enforcement officers and professionals who deal with alcohol and drug abuse got special training Friday on the latest trends in how people hide drugs and alcohol, often in plain sight.

Officer Jermaine Galloway, who was an Idaho law enforcement officer from 1997 until last year, travels the country to learn the latest trends and pass along what he learns. “One thing you’ll hear me say is, ‘High in plain sight,’ meaning different logos, terms, stash compartments, different drug trends, and then also what people are doing as far as lacing drugs, making drugs look different than what people expect they look like,” he says.

He conducted “community scans” in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston in January. His training covered alcohol- and drug-related clothing, alcoholic energy drinks, drug and alcohol concealment methods, drug paraphernalia, drug-related music and groups, logos, stickers, new technology, youth party tendencies and party games, synthetic drugs, over-the-counter drugs, inhalants, e-cigarettes, and popular party drugs.

As one example, he held up a t-shirt. “This right here, it says, ‘I need a dab.’ Dabbing reference is talking about marijuana concentrates. It’s actually a form of marijuana that looks like wax, so the marijuana doesn’t look like a green, leafy substance, it looks like wax, or people will call it earwax or lip balm or something like that, so that dab reference is for that.”

Holding up another t-shirt, it has what looks like a large name tag on the front that reads, “Hello my name is Em.” But the letters are blurred together and it actually says “Errl,” not “Em.” “Errl” is how some people say “oil,” which is a slang term for marijuana waxes.

He showed a rubber bouncy ball and a plastic block toy, both of which had been hollowed out and are used to hide drugs.

While this seminar was for law enforcement and professionals, many of them, like Steve Burritt, Program Director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving South Carolina, will pass along to parents what they’ve learned. He says, “A very small five-pointed crown is actually a brand called No Bad Ideas, which pretty much means that’s a signal that piece of clothing, like a hat, is going to have a stash compartment on the inside. So it just means you may want to ask your child, ‘Can I see your hat? I may want to zip that over. Do you know I know there’s a stash compartment in that hat?’ That might start the conversation that really needs to happen in a household to keep a child safe, when they know that their parent is aware and caring and communicating.”

Galloway also does classes for parents, and says, “As a parent, number one you need to stay active. There’s so much going on. You need to understand that there’s very easy accessibility to drugs nowadays with the internet, and I obviously won’t go into listing which ones, but on the internet you can get just about everything you want and it’s really easy to do and anyone of all ages can actually pull that off.”

Officers with the Greenville Police Department took Galloway’s class in January. Three days later, officers who took the class spotted a car that had a sticker Galloway had talked about. They were able to make a possession with intent to distribute case after finding 18.9 grams of marijuana, a scale, and plastic bags in the car. “We would have never looked twice at this vehicle if it wasn’t for your class,” one of the officers says. “We stood back with our buddies and laughed afterward because this case all started with a bumper sticker.”