Law Enforcement Can Now Drug Search Businesses

By Rachel Martin

June 5, 2012 Updated Jun 5, 2012 at 11:08 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Fort Wayne City Council passes an amendment to the Drug House Ordinance that will allow law enforcement to conduct drug searches in businesses.

If you're worried about synthetic drugs being sold at convenience stores in your neighborhood—worry no more! After being postponed for two weeks, City Council unanimously passed an amendment Tuesday night to the Drug House Ordinance which will better protect neighborhoods from drugs.

When the amendment is enacted, it means law enforcement can conduct drug searches in businesses, particularly convenience stores, suspected of selling synthetic drugs. The original ordinance was written in January 2011, and there was no law that allowed police to investigate businesses.

“There are tips, there’s evidence that this is going on. Once this becomes law, the law enforcement officers will be going out and paying these folks a visit,” said Councilman Geoff Paddock (D—5th District).

According to Paddock and FWPD, there are many convenience stores in Fort Wayne that are selling K-2 and Spice illegally, snd they're targeting young people. Paddock says these drugs have dangerous side effects—so much so that doctors don’t know how to treat it.

“Some horrendous crimes have been committed by people across the nation that are influenced by these synthetic drugs. It’s a high or drug-induced feeling that is much different than anything we’ve seen,” Paddock said. “Physicians are having trouble dealing with it from people who are coming into the emergency rooms. It is something that we do need to address as a city, as a state, as a country.”

Paddock says targeting suspected businesses will help reduce the growing problem.

“What this legislation is looking at are those businesses that are flagrantly out there that are operating for one reason only: that’s to sell this stuff under the counter to young people…and that’s what we want to put a stop to.”

First-time violators will have to pay a $500 fine, after that it’s jail time and possibly closing down businesses. However, Paddock says this law would not hold landlords responsible for employees who are selling drugs on their property.

“We want to make sure that business owners, who are running a legitimate business and may have a ‘bad apple’ as an employee, are not going to be penalized,” he said. “If someone is caught in the parking lot of a business and they are selling synthetic drugs, the business owner is not liable even if it’s on their particular property. That’s similar to what we would have in the Drug House Ordinance for someone who was caught in someone’s driveway or someone’s home and doing the same thing. The homeowner isn’t necessarily aware of that.”

The amendment to the Drug House Ordinance will take effect as soon at Mayor Tom Henry signs it into law.

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