Roger White, owner of White’s Yardworks, started “Taking Out the Trash,” an initiative to help advertise the Rumford Police Department’s tip-line to get drug dealers behind bars. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

RUMFORD — A couple of years ago, Roger White drove by a drug bust in town and was surprised by what he saw.

“People on the streets were actually thanking the cops, applauding when they took the guys out of the house. For a few hours afterward, that’s all you saw on Facebook: people thanking the cops,” he said. “Instead of always thinking the cops did something wrong, people were happy to think that they were arresting some of these people selling heroin and whatnot.”

White, the owner of White’s Yardworks in Rumford, got to thinking about his town’s drug problem. He wondered if he could help keep that public enthusiasm going.

“My theory behind it was a thousand eyes and ears are better than the 10 cops who are trying to handle this alone,” he said.

White had a logo designed and created stickers that urged people to call the Rumford Police Department’s anonymous tip-line with concerns about drug activity. Local businesses put them on their doors.

He called his push “Taking out the Trash” — a motto meant to refer to drug dealers, not drug users, whom he considers victims.

“Every time we have a drug bust, people mention it. ‘Oh, taking out more trash,’” he said.

Rumford Police Chief Stacy Carter agrees Rumford has a drug problem, particularly when it comes to heroin and cocaine. That doesn’t, he said, make the town unique.

“There’s a drug problem in every community in the nation,” he said.

The town has been doing what it can, he said, including adding a drug-sniffing dog to its police ranks and participating in Project Save ME, a program that provides assistance to anyone who walks into the police station seeking help for an addiction.

The tip-line, too, has been a help, Carter said. Although it’s hard to say exactly how many people have called or left an anonymous tip online because of White’s push, Carter believes some have.

“I’ve seen him put stuff on social media and there’s a lot of positive response,” Carter said. “It kind of gets people energized and willing to come forward when they see other people are willing to come forward.”

While White is resolute about getting drug dealers out of town, he also believes in second chances. This past spring he hired Dale Korhonen Sr., a former drug dealer.

White now counts him among his best employees.

“He’s a very caring person,” White said. “I’m just thrilled to have him. I’m extremely proud of him. I tell him all the time.”

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