In jails, not one of the violent criminals was under the influence of heroin at the time their crime was committed. Twenty-one percent of state inmates incarcerated for violent crime were under the influence of alcohol alone at the time they committed their crime. The number of those under the influence of marijuana alone was too small to be recorded statistically. (National 1998) These facts indicate that it is not the drug users that are committing the crimes, but the people who deal with drugs. If there was no money to be gained from dealing with drugs, these criminals would have to find legitimate jobs and the police would only have to worry about traffic.
The efforts to target youth with drug education in the War on Drugs has fallen far short of its original goals. The ONDCP is budgeting less than 12% of the $100 million it was planning to allocate between 1998 and 2003 for reducing youth drug use. (McCaffrey 1998)
In some cities, such as Syracuse, New York, the proportion of resources dedicated to drug enforcement has been criticized by the city's auditor, who noted in his report to the mayor that drug-related arrests "exceeded arrests for assaults, disturbances, and larcenies combined," and that arrests for marijuana comprised nearly one-third of all drug arrests. In Chicago, similar concerns have been raised by a city police sergeant., Sergeant Thomas Donegan, who noted that the vast majority (over 90%) of marijuana arrests in Chicago were dismissed or dropped, leading him to question why law enforcement agents were dedicating significant resources to pursue marijuana when approximately nine of ten cases will not result in a conviction. Donegan recommended the use of fines rather than arrest for marijuana use, a proposal endorsed by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
If I Were Chief of Police
The writer believes that the majority of the police efforts in drug enforcement should be focused on education. D.A.R.E., created by former Los Angeles Police Chief, Daryl Gates, is a program employing uniformed police officers to teach drug education to public school children. But even the federal government has found that this program has had very little effect on youth and young adult drug use and that D.A.R.E. students were no less likely to use drugs than students who were not involved with the program. Some have suggested that police departments are not using the best teachers for this kind of education. (Ennett et al. 1994) A uniformed police officer may not be best used as a teacher, when students feel that they are being confronted with the drug issue, rather than being educated. There are other, more effective programs that D.A.R.E. may learn from, as we shall see below. Not only that, but, since studies indicate that, while 50% of all students try an illegal drug before leaving high school, 85% of them try alcohol (Johnston 1996). Perhaps drugs, alcohol and gangs could all be treated in a single education program for the high school student.
One effective educational program that has been used to keep youth from using drugs has been the Big Brother/Big Sister Program. Researchers found that Little Brothers and Little Sisters were 46% less likely to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking. Little Brothers and Little Sisters also did better in school, had better attendance records and felt better about how they would do in school (Tierney 1995). The Big Brother/Big Sister Program uses mentoring and one-on-one activities, pairing up an adult and a low-income child. This writer would require that a good part of each drug enforcement policeman's time would be spent in a mentoring-type program, rather than in a lecture/teaching-type program in the public schools.
Another source for education of young people would be the internet. If a local program could be put on the web, then young people might be enticed to go to it and learn about the bad results of taking drugs. The DEA has done this on a larger scale. They launched a public website (justthinktwice.com) in 2005 that provides information on methamphetamine, prescription drugs, drugged driving, marijuana and drug legalization for young people. Since the site was launched, there has been an average of 200,000 hits per month. Many people have written to the Attorney General of the United States to express how useful they have found this website and pledged to spread the word about it. (Tandy, 2006) A local website could be made to be cool and interactively fascinating for young people. Money spent on this type of program might have the effect of keeping some young people off of drugs, which would help the police department keep more of its funds to spend on more useful activities.
In Baltimore, Maryland, police have dealt with gangs, which have harassed citizens and created drug-related violence. They created a Police Gang Unit, which targeted the gangs' street activities. This did not require a large number of officers, and the unit was incorporated in the Inspectional Services Division, which could absorb this new unit without causing waves in the Police Department structure. They converted ex-gang members to inform and educate others in the police force on how gangs worked. (Burns 2006) This type of activity should also be included in the ideal police force.
Drug Enforcement Division. City of Orlando Police Investigations, Orlando Police Department Website. 6 November, 2006 http://www.cityoforlando.net/police/investigations/ded.htm
Madigan, Lisa, "Strategies for Fighting Meth: Law Enforcement Strategies." Illinois Attorney General. 6 November, 2006 http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/methnet/fightmeth/law.html#content
National Center on Addition and substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) Behind Bars: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population. New York: Columbia University, 1998.
McCaffrey, Barry R.. The National Drug Control Strategy, 1998: A Ten-Year Plan. Washington, DC: Office of National Drug Control Policy, 1998. p. 58.
Johnston, L., Bachman, J. & O'Malley, P.. National survey results from monitoring the future study, HHS, National Institute on Drug Abuse. 1996.
Ennett, Samuel T., et al. "How Effective is Drug Abuse Resistance Education? A Meta-Analysis of project DARE Outcome Evaluations." American Journal of Public Health. September, 1994.
Tierney, Joseph P., Jean Baldwin Grossman, and Nancy L. Resch.. Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures. 49. 1995.
Tandy, Karen P. "Statement before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies." DEA Congressional TestimonyDEA Congressional Testimony. 5 April, 2006 http://www.dea.gov/pubs/cngrtest/ct040506.html
King, Ryan S. The War on Marijuana: Transforming the War on Drugs in the 90s. Medscape. BioMed Central Ltd. 2006. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/524483_13
Burns, Edward. "Gang- and Drug-Related Homicide: Baltimore's Successful Enforcement Strategy." Bureau of Justice Assistance Bulletin. 2006. http://www.securitymanagement.com/library/Gang_BJA1103.pdf