Last week the Raymond Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to make nine areas in town drug free zones, which will carry harsher penalties for people selling, using or buying drugs in one of those area.
These areas were chosen as areas that are frequented by minors and will fall under the Title 30-A §3253 and Title 17-A §1101(23).
“This was part of the Be The Influence coalition. We identified town owned and town involved land to designate,” said town manager Don Willard. “We were looking for places where young people gather.”
The law about safe zones went into effect almost 10 years ago. “Schools were covered, but where else do kids hangout?” asked Sheriff Kevin Joyce from Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. “This allows us to catch anyone in possession or selling them and charge them. In addition, it ups the ante. Don’t do it in any of these places.” If people are caught by police, whatever they would be charge with normally is elevated one level, according to Windham officer Matt Cyr, who helped Raymond with the plans to designate areas.
Although Raymond isn’t considered to be a large area for drugs, “We’ve seen residual paraphernalia and various debris of drug use,” said Willard.
The areas in Raymond that are now designated drug free safe zones are Crescent Beach on Webbs Mills Road, Raymond Beach and Tassel Top Park both of which are owned by the State of Maine, Sheri Gagnon Memorial Park on Mill Street, both the Raymond Elementary School and the Jordan-Small Middle School, Morgan Meadows on Egypt Road and North Raymond Road, Patricia Avenue and Farwell Drive.
“It’s a pretty concise list,” said Joyce. “Hopefully it discourages those who violate this law from showing up and doing business. The town is trying to be preemptive. It gives us the teeth to say this is a drug free zone. They will fix the problem before it gets out of control.”
Windham has had drug free zones and safe zones at the schools for 10 years. “It’s a deterrent absolutely,” said Cyr. “It sends a message that our community is not going to stand for that kind of thing.”
Officer Cyr gave an example of what happens in a drug free safe zone. If the police catch someone dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school or safe zone, it’s a class D crime, but the designated safe zone will bump the crime up to a class C crime. Not only is it an arrestable offence, but the consequences are more severe.
“We hope it will be a deterrent and be a positive influence,” Willard said.
The signs labeling the sites as drug free zones will go up in the next few weeks.