By Susan Payne
Drink spiking at bars and restaurant is a growing problem.
To curb that problem, the city of West Hollywood approved a plan to purchase and distribute drink-spiking test strips to businesses and patrons, designed to detect the presence of drugs such as ketamine or gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB).
City leaders and volunteers walked the streets of West Hollywood on last month to hand out free test strips, according to Fox LA.
One of the volunteers, Mito Aviles, told the news organization he believes the initiative is important for the community.
“I wanted to come out and help with this program because I think there’s an importance to what’s happening in our community in the sense of here in our bars in the LGBTQ community. I feel like there’s an importance and a need for people to know what’s in their drinks, where they’re going, and to not to leave their drinks behind without them being covered, so this initiative helps with that so that there are no surprises,” said Aviles.
Sepi Shyne, mayor pro tempore for the city of West Hollywood, moved the initiative forward with Councilmember John Erickson.
“We’ve been looking at nightlife safety issues, and we really want to be ahead of the curve and in partnership with our nightlife because they’re all invested in helping to create a more safe environment,” Shyne said. “We thought let’s get these test strips and hand them out to our businesses.”
Earlier this year, city council passed another item that addresses drink spiking requiring bars and restaurants to train bartenders on the issue.
“It is a growing problem everywhere in the entire region, and anywhere that there are bars in the United States. This issue is happening so we are being innovative as a city to move this forward and to let any predators know, you will be caught. We are giving people test strips so don’t come to our city anymore,” said Shyne.
During the volunteer distribution, Women’s Advisory Board member Keely Field shared her experience of having her drink spiked to the city council. West Hollywood resident Shane Ivan Nash also spoke to the council.
Nash said his drink got spiked and he was assaulted in December.