If it ever was true that there's no such thing as bad publicity, social media has upped the ante more than anyone could have imagined.
Back in the fall, District 5 Constable Mike Wallace began posting photos on social media of homes where he and colleagues made arrests which included signs that read: "This DRUG HOUSE Is CLOSED For Business, Courtesy Of: Pulaski County Constable's Office Michael "Wally" Wallace."
It's not hard to imagine that such posts would generate comments and shares. What Constable Wallace didn't foresee was that people under arrest would actually want to pose with a sign.
That's exactly what happened Tuesday night when Constables Wallace, Gary Baldock (District 4) and Constable Eric Strunk (District 3) arrived at a trailer on Frances Drive in Somerset to investigate a tip that drugs were being sold from the residence.
According to Constable Wallace, the owner gave consent to search the property and constables found drug paraphernalia as well as well as cash.
While Destiny N. Owens and Sarah Hall — both 22 and from Somerset — were taken into custody on outstanding warrants, 30-year-old Brandon C. Mayfield was arrested on charges of Tampering with Physical Evidence and second-degree Fleeing or Evading Police (On Foot). Constable Wallace told the Commonwealth Journal that any additional drug-related charges would be pending presentation to the Pulaski County Grand Jury.
However, the trio apparently wished to be photographed with the "Drug House" sign and the constable obliged them.
"One even stated your Facebook is going viral and we want on it," Wallace wrote in posting the photos. "How sad this is it's just a game to them they are not seeing we are trying to save their lives. I have watched these three kids grow up."
Constable Wallace said he'd gotten the idea of posting the signs from a sheriff's department in Florida. In terms of "going viral," Wallace said the post had generated some 32,000 hits and 300 comments in less than 12 hours. While most of the feedback regarding the signs has been positive, Constable Wallace acknowledged he'd gotten negative comments as well.
"We get negative comments," he said, "people worried about children in the home. But we don't leave the sign; we take the sign down. We just want neighbors to know that their neighbor was a drug dealer.
"If they hadn't been dealing drugs, we wouldn't have been there to start with," Constable Wallace said.