Murray County

February 20, 2013

Drug-free program ‘perfectly legitimate’

Eton Police Chief Brent Hooper says a program the Murray County Sheriff’s Office originally said was a scam is “perfectly legitimate.”

The sheriff’s office sent a press release that ran in Sunday’s Daily Citizen telling people to treat as “bogus” solicitations for a “drug-free program” from a Jeff White. The release stated that while the caller tells potential donors their funds will support the program sponsored by area sheriffs’ and police departments, “no local law enforcement agency has approved this.”

Yet Hooper said on Tuesday his department has approved it.

The chief said he knows White personally and has partnered with the company he works for, Drug Free Associates, in the past, too. The Mississippi-based company solicits donations and uses a portion of the money to provide T-shirts, brochures and other items that the Eton Police Department uses for periodic anti-drug, bullying prevention or other educational programs at schools inside the city limits, Hooper said.

Sheriff’s office Capt. John Cherry said a public relations officer there sent the press release after learning at least one resident was given a phone number to call for information that came back to India. Others, he said, were being told the sheriff’s office would benefit from the program, which isn’t true.

“The Murray County Sheriff’s Office is in no way affiliated with that,” Cherry said.

Company owner Dave Warren said Drug Free Associates in its 20 years of existence has occasionally had company representatives come on too strong or give misleading information, but he always tries to address those issues when he learns of them.

He said company officials encourage people who have questions about the company’s legitimacy to contact the law enforcement agency they’re fundraising for. He said the company also has a policy of refunding donations to anyone who feels they were wronged or misled. He can be reached at (662) 231-3221. Warren said company officials do not have a website but are working to develop one.

One of the company’s goals is to provide employment to people who might otherwise have a hard time finding a job, such as people who have a disability or are elderly, he said. Warren said workers typically raise funds in an area for a few weeks while under contract before moving on to work with other law enforcement agencies.

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Murray County