Special Investigations Section (SIS)
What does the SIS do?
The Special Investigations Section (SIS) of the Lowell Police Department is charged with a variety of job assignments. One of the unit's main functions is enforcing narcotics violations in neighborhoods to improve the quality of life for city residents. We conduct many short-term investigations throughout the year that result in long-term results. These investigations begin with complaints received from citizens of Lowell. These complaints are proactively investigated with the goal of infiltrating local narcotics organizations and then dismantling these groups. Frequent interaction with the patrol force and citizens makes this possible. The SIS employs all available technological resources and traditional methods to preserve the quality of life within the city.
How does SIS obtain information?
The Special Investigations Section is made aware of drug complaints in various ways. Sometimes we will receive phone calls and complaints from concerned citizens who report alleged drug activity witnessed in their neighborhoods while remaining anonymous. Informants are also a valuable resource when investigating illegal drug activity. These informants provide first hand knowledge of the everyday workings of narcotics distribution. SIS Detectives will frequently work the streets looking for and infiltrating smaller level street distribution operations. Detectives from the SIS work in conjunction with several different agencies, including the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Immigration and Naturalization, Secret Service, Middlesex District Attorney Office, States Attorney General, and many local surrounding city and town agencies.
How can I identify drug activity in my neighborhood?
Drug activity is primarily initiated in two ways, in a drug house and on the street. While there is no way to know unless one is involved in drug activity, there are certain things to look for to determine if drug activity is suspected.
A. Drug House:
- Frequent-short term foot traffic. It is common for drug users to park their vehicles down the street then walk up to the drug house. The stay at the suspected drug house is very brief, sometimes under ten minutes.
- People hanging around a house for long periods of time, running up to cars that pull up to the residence and having short term contact with the car.
- People hanging around the house when the tenant in not home.
- Windows in the house are closed or covered with shades, the house is kept dark at all times.
- Upkeep of the home and surrounding property is non-existent. Prostitutes hang in and around the area.
- House has been vacant for some time and is now occupied by different persons at all hours of the day and night.
B. Street Corner Sales:
- People flagging down cars.
- People stopping cars for a short period of time.
- People walking up and down the street for no apparent reason
- People stopping cars, contacting the occupants of the car, then running to a hiding spot for their drugs and then back to the car for a hand-to-hand exchange.
- Cars meeting in the side streets for extremely short periods of time where an exchange takes place.
- Cars flashing headlights to each other for no apparent reason.
- Does the SIS address any problems other than illegal drug activity?
The Special Investigations Section is also responsible for investigating and enforcing the vice crimes of prostitution, illegal gaming, and liquor license violations. Complaints received on particular offenses are assigned to detectives who have specialized training in these areas. The SIS utilizes undercover officers and “sting” operations to address these violations. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Lowell License Commission are kept advised of any misconduct that might occur at a licensed establishment. These crimes are taken very seriously and if not acted upon can bring down a neighborhood.
The SIS also provides referrals to individuals involved in drug use who wish to help themselves by entering a rehabilitation facility. The SIS has formed many connections in the medical field that deal specifically with drug and substance abuse. Because of these alliances, we are able to help place those in need in a program that will address their addiction.