Cops Fight Drugs - with Advertising: Ads Solicit Tips for Readers to Report Dealers; News Stories Also Attract Leads

Article excerpt

If a newspaper wants to help fight drugs, writing articles may help more than donating ad space.

That was the lesson learned when two police departments ran classified ads asking for information on drug dealers--and got strong response from news stories about the ad campaign.

The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation in Orlando, Fla., ran an ad for several weeks in the Orlando Sentinel.

However, it was the story about the police placing the ad that got the attention.

"The responses came not so much from the ad as from the article the newspaper ran," said Commander Mel Sears of MBI. "We knew the paper would react to the ad, and the article brought the most results. Very few drug dealers read the classifieds."

After the ad and story ran, the MBI made three cases from information they received.

Taking a different tack, the Brunswick (Ga.) News is donating ad space for the Glynn County Metro Drug Enforcement. That four-by-nine-inch ad resembles an employment application. It asks drug dealers, "Does your competition cost you money? We are here to help you. Let us know who they are by completing the following."

The form asks for dealer's legal name, address, car type, license plate number, office hours and business location. Forms do not have to be signed. A phone number was also listed for call-in tips.

Ron Maulden, advertising director of the Brunswick News, said the ad has run three times.

All the responses came via the phone, according to Lt. Jerry Hogue, Glynn County Metro Drug Enforcement Unit.

"I suppose it's easier to pick up the phone than it is to fill out a form, buy a stamp and mail it in," said Hogue.

Several arrests were made during the time the ad ran. Hogue believes those were directly related to the ad. The ad ran only in newspapers.

He also believes that the respondents were "citizens getting involved more than people turning in their competition."

The News runs the ad only when the space is available, Maulden said. …