UMPD investigates more possible cases of drugged drinks


MISSOULA, Mont. - University of Montana police say eight to 10 students have come forward saying their drinks may have been drugged at downtown Missoula bars after a campus-wide alert was sent out last month.

On Feb. 7 UMPD warned students that two female students, on two separate instances, may have been drugged.

"It's scary," said Leah Werner, a student at UM. "It's not exclusive to big cities. I mean it happens everywhere, so I know that it's an issue everywhere, so I'm always super hyper vigilant about it."

Werner says if she accidentally leaves her drink unattended she gets a new one. And that's the bottom line according to UMPD -- taking care of your drinks.

"We go out all the time, and we're always downtown, and you notice people don't watch their drinks or pay attention, and that's serious," said Werner. "That's not something you joke around with."

"These particular types of crimes are hard to prove unless you catch someone in the act or catch it on video in an establishment," said UM Police Chief Marty Ludemann.

There are more than 50 drugs that can be used to drug drinks. Some can go into effect within 15 minutes of the drug entering your system and be completely out of your system within 12 hours. Police say that's the biggest issue they're facing with this investigation, because those who may be affected are being taken home to "sleep it off" rather than taken to the hospital for bloodwork.

"The sooner they can get a blood draw or have some type of medical response to it the easier it is for us to determine what it was or where it came from," Ludemann said.

UMPD says right now the incidents are contained to four downtown bars. Police are not releasing which bars are involved, but UMPD tells us all bars are cooperating with the investigation.

UMPD says this is a reminder for students to be aware of their surroundings, watch their drinks and watch out for each other.

Several resources exist for students with safety issues or concerns, including UMPD, Curry Health Center Counseling and the Student Advocacy Resource Center. The SARC 24-hour support line is 243-6559.