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March 2012
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The proper use of drug task forces

More of this, please.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple on Friday said he has shut down the department’s drug unit and reassigned the controversial squad’s investigators within his department.

“The Drug Interdiction Unit is no longer. … We’re going in a different direction,” Apple said. “We’re not going to turn our head to drug activity or gambling or prostitution or any other crimes they were investigating, but there’s a lot of other crimes that need attention.”

Apple’s decision to close the unit follows a series of Times Union stories about the unit’s use of criminal forfeiture funds, including purchasing take-home vehicles for its six investigators.

Drug task forces are a bad idea for a whole lot of reasons. They are especially prone to corruption. They have a tendency to consider themselves above local supervision. They lose touch with their core purpose (serve and protect) and are more likely to consider the citizenry as the enemy (like soldiers in a war zone). The fact that they work exclusively with a crime that is consensual means that they spend their time trying to entrap and turn people, rather than truly investigating crime.

Unfortunately, the feds encourage drug task forces through funding and through assisting them in getting around local/state regulations. And the money for drug task forces means that drug enforcement becomes more of a priority than other crime.

Sheriff Craig Apple appears to have the right idea. Focus on policing.

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8 comments to The proper use of drug task forces

  • Mr. Ikashini

    I know that someone would replace Ms. Leonhart but after seeing a kid ripped from moms arms in that video from the NORML blog taped in California over a legal plant compels that justice be done; fire Michelle Leonhart!

  • claygooding

    Mayor Bloomberg thinks we should take a look at how China handles drug offenders,,,how do we get people that stupid in office?

  • kaptinemo

    So, Bloomberg is asking for an AK round to the back of the head for his past admitted drug use?

    It’s almost payday, and I’m near broke, but I’ll happily donate my last 10 bucks for a pool to purchase a one-way ticket to Beijing for him.

    When, oh when will these hypocritical horse’s arses, who wield the sword of justice, ever feel its’ edge on their necks?

  • kaptinemo

    And as to the article, it practically screams…that the behavior it details is normal.

    That’s the problem. It’s gone on for so long that nothing like this is shocking in the least. Corrupt police departments? Yawn. So what else is new?

    And this is why it has to stop, why the DrugWar needs to be given an ignominious retirement. That society is becoming so jaded that we expect our police to be corrupt is more corrosive to civil society than any one shocking instance of police brutality. For if the very bottom level of the justice system is corrupt, what hope for remediation does society have above that level?

  • Francis

    “The proper use of drug task forces”? Geez, I don’t know. Picking up roadside litter, making license plates? Those two are pretty standard, but I’m sure if we tried, we could think of LOTS of ways that former members could be made to pay for their crimes against humanity while providing a useful service.

    • Duncan20903

      Have you ever wondered how the inmates in various New Hampshire penitentiaries feel about making license plates that say “Live Free or Die”?