Faulty thinking in law enforcement

Wow! Law enforcement just keeps making the same mistakes they have been making for 40 years. In response to the ever-increasing violence, Dover P.D. has revived the Street Crimes Unit, and they herald drug arrests — drug arrests — in a front-page story in the Delaware State News: “Dover’s Street Crimes Unit off to a fast start,” p. 1, May 21.

Police spokesman Cpl. (Mark) Hoffman says, “Most crime, especially violent crime, can be tracked back to the illegal drug trade, so yes, this is a key factor.” “Key factor”?

Here are the facts: continuing to arrest drug addicts and nonviolent drug offenders does nothing to slow the flow of drugs. Worse, police resources are misguided and wasted. The percentage of solved homicides has declined from about 95 percent in the early ’70s to near 46 percent today precisely because police have been taking the “low-hanging fruit,” making the easy arrests.

Similarly, the percentage of solved rapes has fallen from 96 percent to about 47 percent! As the “war on drugs” ramped up, the percentages of solved murders and rapes fell by nearly 100 percent! We need to get the violent criminals off the streets, not just the addicts!

Our politicians and other officials are shortsighted, and cannot “see the forest for the trees.” Reporter Craig Anderson wrote a good article: “Violent Crime Unprecedented in City of Dover” (indeed it is!), Delaware State News, p. 1, May 17. He quotes various officials and citizens saying things such as “I am going to study the issues,” “we need a grassroots solution” and “parents need to raise their kids better.” Well, Police Chief Paul Bernat hit the nail on the head when he said: “Crime issues revolve in large part from the illegal drug trade.” Bingo! We have ceded the $400 billion drug business to criminals; we need to take it back under control.

Depending what study you read, 84 percent to 93 percent of all crime is drug-related. Every day we read “ … arrested on drug charges,” an account of local people, one or many, arrested on drug charges. This does nothing to solve the problem; it only fills our prisons with people with health issues (addiction), many other nonviolent drug offenders, clogs our courts to the point of dysfunction, and wastes countless millions of your tax dollars.

Our 40-plus-year history of the “war on drugs” has proven this! Occasionally, a shooter is caught (less than half the time; only about 47 percent of murders are solved, compared with over 95 percent before we started the ludicrous “war on drugs”!).

I know the solution to the problem: decriminalize, regulate, and tax all drugs. It works. In Portugal, where for nearly three years this had been the policy, crime is down dramatically, addiction is down, and costs are down. Colorado tells the same story, although they have regulated only marijuana.

Where such laws and policies have been implemented, the results are universally, overwhelmingly positive! These are irrefutable facts! Folks, you cannot argue with the facts! Fewer mothers’ sons are dying needlessly on the streets, and fewer mothers’ daughters are falling prey to drugs. Drugs are bad, but the “war on drugs” is worse! How do I know? I am a former prosecutor, former defense attorney, former addict, former prisoner, and have been immersed in these issues for many years, and now also a speaker for LEAP.

I don’t expect to see the solution in this country in my lifetime; too many people are employed doing the same old things which do not work! Too many are slow to see the light. When I give talks as a member of the Speakers Bureau of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, many people are skeptical. Some even snicker; but at least, it gets them thinking. We need to stop thinking, talking, “studying the issues,” stop using the same failed laws and policies we have had for half a century, and start to act to really solve the problem. Every U.S. resident, especially politicians and all involved with criminal justice, should read “After Prohibition” — www.tiny.cc/afterprohibition, the best explanation of the real solution to this crisis of violence!

It is long past time to improve our communities, our towns and states, by implementing the kind of dramatic and uncomfortable changes which are needed to do it. Real people are suffering and dying every day due to current policies. So far, our government, at least in domestic law enforcement, has failed at its primary purpose: To protect its citizens. Do what is needed for colossal improvement and success!

Ken Abraham
Former Deputy Attorney General
Citizens for Criminal Justice

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