By PoliceOne Staff
CINCINNATI — A recent investigation uncovered the truth behind where local police and firefighter donations are really going.
In many cases, only 10 percent of all the money raised goes to help actual officers and firefighters hurt in the line of duty, according to a WCPO report.
Organizations such as Firefighters Support Foundation and Disabled Police and Sheriff's Association paid telemarketers 90 cents for every $1 they raised in the Cincinnati region, according to the report.
"It's disgusting to know people are making money off the backs of injured police officers," said Lockland Police Officer Brandon Gehring.
Even Reading Police Chief Scott Snow and his staff have received these calls.
“They’ll say, ‘I represent the local police department' or 'we're a group of officers'," Snow said.
According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Encore Music Productions Ltd. solicited for more than 30 organizations in Ohio since 2006 by selling tickets and business advertisements for local concerts.
DeWine said Encore committed several violations, including:
• Training telemarketers to falsely identify themselves as volunteers or firefighters
• Failing to identify themselves as professional solicitors
• Failing to properly register with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office
• Lying to donors by saying 100 percent of donations went to a local charity, when only 10 to 33 percent went to charity
"People, whether they have money or don't have money, want to be assured that their $15 or $20 is actually going to a charity, and not going to be eaten up...by a telemarketer,” DeWine said. "That's not illegal per se, but how many of us would give money to our local police if we knew 90 percent of that money was going to paid solicitors who are in some other state?"
DeWine said Encore also hired more than 22 recently convicted felons as telemarketers to solicit money — which is a violation of Ohio law.
"You are not allowed to use convicted felons in the state of Ohio to do direct solicitation, and we have caught solicitors who are doing that," he said.
Firefighters Charitable Foundations has raised millions by phone in Ohio.
The for-profit Firefighters Services, LLC raised more than $670,000 in Ohio over a three-year period for the Firefighters Charitable Foundation, according to the report. However, according to records, the charity got a little more than a $100,000 of that — meaning the telemarketers kept 85 cents of every $1 donated.