Misplaced Priorities in the War on Drugs
Radley Balko has a new feature article at Huffington Post on law enforcment's misplaced priorities in the War on Drugs.
"The availability of huge federal anti-drug grants incentivizes departments to pay for SWAT team armor and weapons, and leads our police officers to abandon real crime victims in our communities in favor of ratcheting up their drug arrest stats," said former Los Angeles Deputy Chief of Police Stephen Downing. Downing is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an advocacy group of cops and prosecutors who are calling for an end to the drug war.
"When our cops are focused on executing large-scale, constitutionally questionable raids at the slightest hint that a small-time pot dealer is at work, real police work preventing and investigating crimes like robberies and rapes falls by the wayside," Downing said.
In New York, enforcement against violent crimes has taken a back seat to drugs. This Village Voice article explains.
Also to blame: asset forfeiture laws allowing police to share in the proceeds of their seizures.
The most perverse policy may be asset forfeiture. Under civil asset forfeiture, police can seize property from people merely suspected of drug crimes. So long as police can show even the slightest link of drug activity to a car, some cash, or even a home, they can seize it. In the majority of cases, most or all of the seized cash goes back to the police department. In some cases, the department has taken possession of cars as well, but generally non-cash property is auctioned off, with the proceeds then going back to the department.
This reminds me of a joke that was going around a year or so ago.
The Arrogance of Authority,, aka the Power of the Badge
A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas , and talked with an old rancher. He told the rancher, "I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs."
The rancher said, "Okay , but don't go in that field over there.....", as he pointed out the location.
The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, " Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me !" Reaching into his rear pants pocket, the arrogant officer removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher.
"See this f*****g badge?! This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish.... On any land !! No questions asked or answers given!! Have I made myself clear......do you understand ?!!" The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.
A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by the rancher's big Santa Gertrudis bull....
With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he'd sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.
The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs.....
"Your badge, show him your f*****g BADGE.... !"
And as if we're not wasting enough domestic resources on the War on Drugs, check out the contract solicitations this month from the Defense Department's DoD Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office (CNTPO). Adam Clark Estes at the Atlantic Wire and Spencer Ackerman at Wired report the program is "a one-stop shop for private security contractors around the world, soliciting deals worth over $3 billion."
|< "Bali Boy" Avoids Prison, 10 Days More to Serve | Joran Van der Sloot Trial Set for Jan. 6, Faces 30 Year Sentence >|