Illegal drugs are everywhere, including our neighborhood. The Northeast Police Division will focus this coming year on reducing the amount of drugs being sold and used, and part of that effort requires visiting known drug houses for a “knock and talk.”

 

What does it mean to “knock and talk”? Do you just question people, or are there confrontations and arrests?

Basically, it’s just what it sounds like. We go up to the door, we knock on it, and we talk to them about the possibility of drugs being there. But in doing that, we just don’t pick houses at random.

 

How do you find the houses?

We here at Northeast get complaints on drug houses, as does the narcotics division downtown. A lot of times, they’re the same ones. Just because somebody calls and says, “I think my neighbor’s got a drug house” doesn’t mean we go there. We look at those locations, and based on investigation, we determine whether we need to do a knock and talk there.

 

Does a call from a neighbor give police probable cause for a search, or do you have to have a warrant to search?

This is not the same thing as a search warrant. To conduct a thorough search of a house, you have to have a warrant. The ones you see on TV where they’re knocking the door down and going in, those are a search warrant signed by a judge. This is not anything on that level.

 

In that case, how many people are honest about having drugs in the house?

You’d be surprised by how many people let us in. When we did knock and talks in the months of November and December, we checked 85 different locations. We made contact at 33 of those, where we actually got somebody at the door, and 27 of those 33 gave us consent to search. Out of those, we made arrests at five locations with a total of nine people arrested.

 

What exactly is a “drug house”? Does that refer to a drug dealer’s location or more like an abandoned house that people frequent to buy and sell drugs?

It can be where they are selling from, where they are using from, either of those. And it can be a house or an apartment — it can even be a business. It could be occupied or a vacant structure somebody’s using to do their drugs.

 

What sorts of drugs do you find?

Everything. We find marijuana, cocaine, crack, methamphetamines, illegal prescriptions … whatever’s out there, you can find it on knock and talks.

 

Is there a big drug problem in the neighborhood? Are there specific problem areas?

Narcotics are a problem everywhere; it depends on the degree — small-time users up to the big time traffickers. All of those pop up in different parts of the community at different times, and that’s why we ask people to report about specific drug use, so we can figure out what’s going on. This department’s focus for this coming year is on drugs, gangs and guns, and reducing those.

 

Are there a lot of drug related crimes in the area, including those beyond simply possessing and selling?

A lot of crimes are drug related, including burglaries and burglaries of a motor vehicle, because people will sell those for cash, for drugs. Also some robberies and assaults are disputing drug dealers or people not paying for their drugs, and we do run into that quite a bit.


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