Drug dealers must earn

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Some years ago, then First Lady Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

That idea comes to mind concerning the implementation of the Drug Market Initiative/Intervention Program, also known as DMI. Tom Larson, a lieutenant of the Peoria Police Vice and Narcotics Unit, is heading up the new program, which basically takes the approach, “It takes a village to reform a drug dealer.”

With DMI, undercover cops infiltrate an area, making drug buys and gathering video surveillance. After the intelligence is gathered, the police identify low-level drug dealers with no violence in their records and high-level drug dealers.

The police arrest the high-level drug dealers. The low-level dealers receive a letter letting them know they have come to the attention of the police. They are invited to a meeting and told they will not be arrested if they come. At the meeting, they are confronted by members of the community and told the community is working with the police to take back the neighborhood. 

Social service agencies will be at the meeting to offer help. “Hopefully, they will take the help offered,” Larson said.

So far, it sounds like a velvet-covered glove. But, Larson says, in reality, it is a velvet-covered hammer.

Larson said assistant state’s attorney Seth Uphoff has been assigned to work with the police unit. He is going to ask for high bonds — $5,000 or $10,000 in cash.

“We’ll tell them they have one chance. This is it,” Larson said.

That sounds more like it. Everyone deserves a second chance. But, there has to be an expectation people learn from a second chance.

Peorians are growing tired of all the chances drug dealers get. In parts of the city, the same faces can be seen doing the same crimes day after day after being taken off the streets time and time again by the police.

The vital missing link Larson could not address is the judiciary. He does not know if they are on board. Without the judges on board, this program is going to go nowhere. 

Peorians from every corner of the city need to get behind this effort, if for no other reason than as Larson put it, “I can’t guarantee DMI will work, but what we have tried so far hasn’t worked.”

However, optimism in the community about this program may be hard to muster. The community can get tough and, at the same time, offer a helping hand. But, the community cannot snap its fingers and instill the will to succeed or the desire to be a productive member of society in low-level drug dealers. More expectations have to be put on the targeted drug-dealers of this community.