CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- After Chesterfield Police discovered two possible meth labs along the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor in the last three days, members of a local church and community group gathered at the Bellwood Maisonette apartments to promote a different image: one of community.
“When we saw the recent meth lab busts, we also saw the comments that would follow underneath, and they’re not always accurate,” said Nicholas Jenkins, pastor of Ascend Church. “We’ve come to see them in an amazing light, an authentic light, that displays how many amazing people call this community home.”
Jenkins and the group Empowered Warriors organized a community cookout near the same spot four people were arrested Sunday after investigators discovered a possible meth lab inside an apartment unit.
One of Jenkin’s church members lives in the same building and had to evacuate. He arrived at the scene to find police units and Hazmat trucks blocking off access to the apartment.
“If they’re going to block it off for this taking place, let’s re-stamp it with something positive taking place where a community is coming together to support and love one another,” Jenkins said.
The four people arrested Sunday night did not live in the apartment where the meth lab was discovered, police said.
Tuesday night, about a ten-minute drive down Jefferson Davis Highway from the cookout, officers serving a warrant to a home on Arcadia Avenue discovered materials consistent with a small meth lab in a backyard shed. Turner Littlefield, 43, was jailed with no bond in connection to the warrants and the discovery.
Jenkins said the reality of the situation is that some people struggle with addiction along the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor and that meth lab busts are a sign of the problem. Part of the goal for Wednesday’s event is to reach people where they are by bringing them support and connecting them with recovery resources.
“We need to be willing to infiltrate and get our hands dirty and be a part of it and work with people and not operate with stigmas and misinformation,” Jenkins said.
His master’s degree in psychology included an emphasis on substance abuse, so Jenkins said his education and minister has shown him the importance of stressing to those battling addiction that it is okay to not be okay.
"Not faking a smile, not putting on your Sunday best, but being real with where you’re at. A lot of times that’s going to be bringing in those wounds and that struggle,” he said.
Chesterfield police said, at this point, there is no evidence the two meth lab busts are related. Both incidents remain under investigation, police said.