Published on December 8th, 2015 | by Brittain Thompson3
City of Oxford, Mississippi Officials Respond To Controversial Confedential Informant Program After 60 Minutes Exposé
Oxford, Mississippi (TLV) – Mayor Patterson, Chief of Police Joey East and Ward 2 Alderman Robyn Tannehill met with members of the press Tuesday afternoon at City Hall to discuss recent coverage of the Metro Narcotics Unit confidential informant program by 60 Minutes.
“We are here because drugs are being used and sold on our streets,” said Alderman Tannehill. “We are here because keeping the streets and our children safe is worth fighting for.”
The methods of recruiting informants have been on the forefront since Buzzfeed initially reported on the story. The unit’s grant funding is based on its performance.
“It was not quantity but quality of the cases,” said Chief East. “It’s not our problem to catch somebody that’s a stoner or smokes a bud every now and then. That is not what we want…these people never become informants.”
The communities reaction to the aggressive and coercive nature of Keith Davis, former Commander of the Metro narcotics Unit, as seen in video evidence led to his resignation.
“We didn’t want to lose the trust of the community,” said Chief East.
Concerns have been raised in regards to the extent of the informants and how safe the program is. When asked what steps were taken to protect the informants, Chief East described the process.
“You gotta be careful who you talk to. You’re in a world where a lot of people do drugs. The more people you tell, the more chance you have of someone finding out what you’re doing,” said Chief East.
The informants go through a checklist of dos and don’ts. They are also told to not use or buy drugs while involved in the process as well to avoid any previous activities that would be considered illicit.
“We have certain tools and those are what we use,” said Chief East. “We do everything possible that we know…maybe there’s more things we can do, but I think we’ve been pretty successful from good police work and by the grace of God no one’s been hurt doing this. Drugs is a bad life…it ruins lives on every end of it.”
To close out the discussion, Mayor Patterson pulled out a photo of a Narcotics bust from Monday showing approximately 7 pounds of marijuana, $2600 in cash and a firearm. When asked if the person involved was a student, they confirmed he was but not where he attended.