When the police catch you with drugs, sometimes they'll offer you leniency if you tell them about other people who have more, harder drugs.
In other words, they’ll ask you to narc on someone to save yourself.
Tuscaloosa resident Ryan Orlando was recently that someone. Speaking to us by phone, he tells us he was recently narc'd on by a woman he knew who had, he says, gotten in trouble for having illegal Xanax. When the cops offered her leniency if she'd tell them who else had drugs, she chose him, of all people, to rat on. When the cops asked her what he had, she told him he had cocaine.
The cops raided his house, found the cocaine they were told about, and arrested him with guns pointed. He went to jail and they set bail at $16,000. Charmingly, he says the cops offered to let him off if he himself narc'd on someone else.
Spoiler alert: he kept his mouth shut.
Orlando didn't take any of this lying down, though. He wanted revenge. When he got out, he took the highly unusual step of buying a $10,000 mobile billboard, paying $600 to have the woman's picture plastered on the billboard along with a sign saying that this girl "is a narc." He drove it around town March 23 so everyone would know there was a rat in their midst.
Weeks later, Orlando is still fired up about what happened to him. He's not stopping with the girl who ratted him out. On his new website, Expose Narcs, he's showing the pictures of other Tuscaloosans who he says narc'd. And he's fixing to put their pictures up on the mobile billboard next.
Orlando says he only does so when he has solid evidence.
In the meantime, there's a page on his site called "Who's a narc?" replete with pictures of people he says are local narcs and descriptions of them.
"On this page, we'll name names," the site reads. "If you can prove to us that someone is a narc, then we will post his or her name and picture on this page. The purpose in exposing narcs isn't necessarily to embarrass them; rather, the purpose of exposing narcs is simply to make people — potentially innocent people — think twice about trusting someone who's a narc. Narcs are low-character people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions, so they tattle on other people (and oftentimes, induce people to commit crimes that they wouldn't ordinarily commit) in order to gain favor with the police."
Many are cheering his unusual efforts, Orlando says. But others — mostly women — are saying that he put the girl in danger by showing her face around town. He defends himself. "I embarrassed a girl who made a very low-character decision," he says.
Of course, "embarrassment" isn't the only possible outcome of publicly shaming someone, regardless what their offense was. People whose name and likeness are released and the subjects of public shaming are often targeted with hateful and threatening emails or social media messages, intimidated, stalked, assaulted, and in the case of one North Dakota narc, even murdered. "Embarrassment" would be putting that lightly.
Still, Orlando presses on, driven partially by a still-unquenched thirst for revenge and half by a curious sense of moral imperative that says people should take responsibility for their own actions.
Orlando realizes that his billboard may not be directed at the most morally dubious actors, though. The West Alabama Narcotics Task Force, which extracted the intel from the girl who narc'd on him, has a bad reputation in the area for, as the local newspaper says, turning students into snitches.
"They really strong-arm these people into doing their dirty work so they can act like cowboys and kick down people's doors," Orlando tells us.
Phone calls to the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force on Thursday and Friday were unreturned.
Ironically, one could argue that Orlando is a narc himself. Posting someone's face and name on a site or moving billboard for everyone to see is tattling on a tattler, only in a much bigger, more vindictive way. It's narcing inception. Now, in a way, we're narcing on a narc narcing on a narc just by posting this article.
Here's to hoping we don't end up on Orlando's site too.