A Cash Reward For Ratting On Drug-Dealing Neighbors?

By Victoria Kim 10/06/17

The unconventional, problematic initiative kicked off in Warren, Michigan this week. 

Businesswoman displaying a spread of cash

A Michigan mayor is trying a different approach to “fight” his city’s growing drug problem. 

Mayor James Fouts of Warren, Michigan, is offering a $500 cash reward for residents who rat on fellow townies for illegal drug activity. The information must “lead to a search warrant and arrest involving illegal drug sales,” according to a press release by the mayor.

“This in effect means that the City of Warren residents will be the eyes and ears in our war against drug pushers,” according to the statement.

The program, aptly named P.A.I.D. (People Against Illegal Drugs), will pay for the cash rewards with money seized from the police department’s civil asset forfeiture fund. “In other words, we’re taking funds from drug dealers to pay residents for information about other drug dealers. Taxpayers are not paying for this,” said Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer, who helped the mayor announce the new initiative on Wednesday (Oct 4).

According to the mayor’s office, the city of Warren saw a 400% increase in fatal heroin overdoses from 2015-2016. And the number of heroin deaths is expected to exceed last year’s total of 32 deaths. As of August, the city had already reached this total.

Police Commissioner Dwyer says this unconventional approach is necessary to address today’s drug problem. Even compared with what he saw heading up anti-drugs efforts in Detroit during the 1970s, Dwyer says the opioid epidemic is unprecedented, and the city's efforts so far have not worked.

“We’re not winning the war on drugs,” he said. “There’s an epidemic today as far as heroin overdoses, and this is a new initiative to make neighborhoods safer. We want the 134,000-plus residents to help us fight illegal drug activity.”

Mayor Fouts has also established a program meant to emphasize what he considers a difference between “addicts” and “drug pushers.”

Under his administration, the “Help Not Handcuffs” program aims to help people with a drug problem by connecting them with support services like a counselor or hospital.

“Addicts should be treated as a patient not a criminal,” said the mayor in his press release. “Drug pushers should be jailed and their drug house should be forfeited to the city. Bottom line is this could help stem the tide of drug deaths and crime in our neighborhoods.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr