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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Don't Crack Me Up

Gainesville police staged a high-profile bust of 18 street-level drug dealers Tuesday, in an East Gainesville apartment complex. Such events do nothing to reduce crime or drug use and abuse and serve only as media spectacles designed to make people believe the cops have a handle on drug dealing, which they do not.

This of course is not the first time such a bust has been made, and likely not even the first one at this apartment complex. When crack and powder cocaine are involved, the business of supply and demand are in control. When the cops arrest a dealer, he or she is either back on the street within hours or days, or, if the dealer is actually locked up for a long time, he or she is quickly replaced by someone else willing to risk prison time to make money as a crack dealer.

I first covered this type of press event in 1988, in Bushnell, when the Sumter County Sheriff's Office made a series of busts in the same neighborhood, where drive-through drug dealing was common.

I took the list of people who had been arrested and followed their progress through the courts, and I researched their prior arrests and adjudications. What I found was that the vast majority of them had been through this dog-and-pony show multiple times, only to return to the street and to crime.

I also talked to neighborhood activists, who seriously wanted something done about the drive-by drug store. They told me that after each bust, there was a brief lull and then the sales resumed.

I agree that we need to address drug abuse, but solely as a public health issue, not a crime issue. GPD does call this bust part of its "Comprehensive Drug Plan," but it is a rather useless appendage. Cops locally and nationwide have been going through this routine for two decades, with no appreciable decline in drug use.

Countries that focus on rehabilitation and treatment, such as the Netherlands, have fared much better with the effects of drug abuse on society. The illegality of drugs will deter people who are addicted to cocaine, so why spend money on it. Instead, divert that money into rehab programs that treat addicts, many of whom want help but are afraid to approach anyone because of the illegal nature of their addiction. Alcoholics aren't treated as such.

Don't agree. Check out this quote from one woman busted in the GPD sting, who thanked the cops "because I wasn't doing nothing but killing myself anyway."

Hopefully she'll receive more than time in a jail cell.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

alachuapolitix rules!

9:37 PM

Blogger BigDogDem said...

Colin, GPD's comprehensive drug plan has a rehabilitation aspect built into it. They partner with the corner drug store to offer drug counseling to those who need it.

7:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

AlachuaPolitix rules!!!

8:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

we should allow, as a society, any one to smoke, snort, or shoot anything they want?

11:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS alachuapolitix RULES!

11:46 PM


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