Local officials in Oxford, Mississippi, have opened a review into the practices of a controversial drug unit and implemented changes to its policies following a BuzzFeed News investigation. The changes were announced by University of Mississippi Police Chief Tim Potts in an interview with the Daily Mississippian this week.
A series of BuzzFeed News stories published this year revealed that Lafayette County Metro Narcotics — a multi-jurisdictional unit overseen and funded jointly by the city of Oxford, Lafayette County, and the University of Mississippi — targets college-age locals for low-level drug charges and coerces them into working as confidential informants by exaggerating the legal consequences they may face.
“[S]ometimes you see things that make you reflect and say ‘Hey, let’s take a look at this,'” Potts told the local paper. “Are we doing what we say we’re doing? Are we following best practices? I’m not going to say that we only looked because of the articles, but I think the scrutiny on the unit made us and the University want to look at it.”
According to Potts, a team of law enforcement officials from outside Oxford is investigating the unit’s operations. He told the local paper that these officials worked in narcotics, but he did not specify what agency they worked under.