Drug Hotline Gets 400 Calls
Councilor Bill Dimas wants evaluation of whether city tip line for narcotics leads to arrestsLocal NewsThursday, May 21, 2015
Do hotlines actually work?
It has been a little over a year since Santa Fe’s regional drug tip hotline has been in operation, and now the city councilor behind it is asking for a review of all tips to see how effective they’ve been.
Dimas, who chairs the city’s Public Safety Committee and who came up with the hotline idea, wants Ken Martinez, the director of the Santa Fe Regional Emergency Center, to look into hundreds of tips that have come in since April of last year and whether they have led to any arrests or convictions.
“It’s something that’s near and dear to my heart—stopping drug trafficking,” says Dimas, a former judge and police officer who lost his daughter, Brandi, four years ago, to drug abuse at the age of 32.
“You name it, she used it,” adds Dimas, who made the hotline a part of his platform in his unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2014. “I don’t know if you know this, but Santa Fe has a huge heroin problem, as does much of the country, and it’s time we tried to put a stop to it.”
In the last 13 months, about 400 calls have come into the hotline, averaging roughly 30 calls per per month, Martinez told members of the committee on May 19.
Yet Martinez says it’s going to take some detective work to track down how many tips have actually resulted in arrests, something he plans to look into in the coming months before reporting back to Dimas and the committee.
“What we do know for sure,” Martinez tells SFR, “is that when a tip is called in, if it’s in progress, then we try to send an officer over there right away.”
But if the tip deals with something along the lines of, “I think my neighbor is selling drugs,” then the complaint is forwarded to the investigations unit of the appropriate law enforcement agency, Martinez says.
Sgt. Andrea Dobyns, a public information officer for the Santa Fe police department, says narcotics investigators usually conduct surveillance based on the tip if it seems credible. Everything takes time when it comes to drug busts, she says, especially if deals are not in progress and officers are going off a tip.
“It’s not like we can go in and bust a door down based on a tip,” says Dobyns, who uses the police department Facebook to advertise the hotline. “But the hotline is definitely helping in determining places where there might be suspicious activities.”
Seven dispatchers answer the hotline, which is run out of the RECC. The service area includes the city of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County and the town of Edgewood. The line has a distinctive ring to it, and dispatchers on duty tend to it over the course of their shifts.
“There was no cost implement it,” Martinez notes. “The only costs really are personnel costs; answering it is factored into their job duties.”
Martinez says he thinks the hotline is an important law enforcement tool because it gives the public “an avenue” to call law enforcement on suspicious activity as it relates to drugs.
“We’re talking about everything and anything,” Martinez says, adding: “It’s important for the citizens to reach out to us if they think something illegal is going on.”
This is not the first time the center has used a special hotline, Martinez says. He says about seven years ago officials called for a rape hotline to deal with what seemed to be an increase in sexual assaults in the city and the county. That hotline has since been disconnected, and it didn’t last as long as the drug tip hotline, Martinez says.
Want to narc you neighbor? The drug hotline number is 428-3737.