The thing about drug operations is they can be set up anywhere, anytime.
And, occasionally, it's not just police officers who work to find the bad guys. It may all boil down to a tip given by an observant resident.Here are some things to watch for regarding suspicious neighborhood drug activity, according to North Canton Police Chief Stephan Wilder:
- Frequent visitors at all hours of the day or night. Granted, said Wilder, “There are some people that have large families or a big group of friends, but …”
- “Exchanges” taking place outside. “Hands exchanged, money exchanged, people pulling into the driveway or in front with a quick hi-bye situation (all) might lead us to suspicious activity,” Wilder said.
- Unusual odors. Another clue could be the smell of everyday chemicals. “Do you see a lot of fans in the windows? Is there ventilation at a business or (home) that the smell of marijuana or other drug or chemical is escaping from,” Wilder said. “Some people who manufacture drugs use cutting agents such as bleach or other cleaning products. There might even be some type of medicinal smell because of what the people are growing or selling or trying to distribute.”
- Extreme privacy measures. The chief acknowledges that many people pull their window shades in the evening for privacy. “But if someone’s involved in manufacturing, growing, selling or distributing drugs from their residence it’s been a major clue that they keep their shades drawn … at all hours of the day. They don’t want people looking in their windows,” Wilder said.
- Discarded drug paraphernalia. Syringes, pipes, spoons and other items can be carelessly tossed out. If found, the police should be called. “We don’t want people touching that stuff. If it’s children (that find an item), they should tell a responsible adult,” Wilder said. “We are prepared and trained to remove those items and document it.”
“With the Criminal Justice Information System – CJIS – people can go in and look for public arrest records for people in their neighborhood,” Wilder explained.
The chief said his officers “encourage citizens to report their suspicions to us. We have a tip line that’s anonymous if they’re seeing indicators.”
The detective bureau maintains an anonymous tip line that is answered by an answering machine 24 hours a day. Anyone can call 330-966-3633 to leave a non-emergency tip.
“The biggest thing people can do is look out for each other, share information with us and we’ll … investigate it and see what it leads us to,” Wilder said. “If there’s drug activity taking place in our community … we’ll check it out to put a stop to it. If there’s an arrest to be made, we’ll make it.”