New Strategy to Combat Local Drug Epidemic

By Dan Northcutt

Calais and Baileyville Police Departments are calling on citizens of their respective communities to act as eyes and ears in the war on drugs. Calais Police Chief David Randall and Baileyville Police Chief Bob Fitzsimmons have recently put together an initiative whereby private citizens are encouraged to report suspected drug activity to the departments. The comprehensive plan called Operation Watch Neighborhood (O.W.N) utilizes social media sites like Facebook to educate citizens of Calais and Baileyville about the project as well as to allow them a platform in which to contact the police departments with relevant information. 

The project, which according to Chief Fitzsimmons was “the baby of Chief Randall,” is similar to New Brunswick’s successful Crime Stoppers hotline in that informants are guaranteed security and anonymity. However, it differs from Crime Stoppers and other similar projects because it specifically targets drug distribution due to direct community outreach. Not only can you contact them via telephone you can send an email message the departments through their social media pages, and are encouraged to speak directly to officers at the station or within your neighborhood.

Calais and Baileyville have long been known for their heavy traffic in prescription pills but the towns are no strangers to drugs more commonly found in large urban areas such as crack-cocaine and heroin. According to representatives from both police departments the area has seen deaths, overdoses, and extensive crime related to drug use and distribution. While the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency used to maintain a fairly large presence within the area, they have scaled back, placing more pressure on municipal police departments to locate, investigate, and bring to justice drug dealers and abusers. According to Marcia Hayward, Administrative Assistant to Calais Police Chief Randall, “over the years we’ve been trying different tactics. This has always been in the back of our minds. Normally drug cases are done in secret. This is the total opposite, we’ll be in broad daylight.”

The program has already seen success. Both Marcia Hayward and Baileyville Police Chief Fitzsimmons reported that within minutes of posting the initiative they received numerous leads for subsequent investigation. According to Chief Fitzsimmons, “These are small communities; people know who the drug dealers on their street are.” If you have any information about suspicious activity in your area contact the local police department’s tip line at 454-8730. Help make our towns safer, cleaner, and drug free.