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April 2013
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Reclaiming our Police Forces

A couple of articles worth reading on the subject of Law Enforcement. One of the real important reasons for ending the drug war, in my opinion, has been to reclaim the positive relationship between police and their communities. The drug war in particular, along with militarization, has turned the police against those they are supposed to serve, and vice versa.

bullet image Why We Need To Stop Exaggerating The Threat To Cops by Radley Balko

When cops are told that every day on the job could be their last, that every morning they say goodbye to their families could be the last time they see their kids, that everyone they encounter is someone who could possibly kill them, it isn’t difficult to see how they might start to see the people they serve as an enemy. Again, in truth, the average cop has no more reason to see the people he interacts with day to day as a threat to his safety than does the average resident of St. Louis or Los Angeles or Nashville, where I live. […]

Of course, there are other factors that have contributed to the psychological isolation of police. One example is the move from foot patrols to squad cars or, more broadly, from proactive to reactive policing. When cops walk beats, they become a part of the communities they patrol. Residents see them out and about. They learn names, faces and places. When police patrol in cruisers, they’re walled off from neighborhoods. […]

So we have cops whose interactions with the public are negative the vast majority of the time, who are constantly told they’re fighting a war, and who are constantly reminded that their job is highly dangerous and getting more dangerous, and that they could be killed by anyone at any time. When they start to see the people they serve as the enemy, they begin to treat them that way. The people in the communities treated that way then respond in kind. Thus, we get the hostile, often volatile cop-community relationships we see in too much of the country today, in which citizens don’t trust cops enough to help them solve crimes, and cops feel so threatened and isolated that even well-meaning officers won’t report fellow officers who break the law.

bullet image Saving Law Enforcement Organizations From Themselves by Diane Wattles-Goldstein (LEAP Member). Diane writes about a loathsome statement made by a police union member in support of officers who conducted body searches merely based on the supposed smell of marijuana.

So the Drug War marches on with more victims, collateral damage to a futile attempt to control human nature. All the while, supposed criminal justice professionals like Roberts continue to influence a profession that I loved, changing our course from protecting those we have sworn to serve to victimizing them at unknown cost to our humanity. Professor Roberts, I would simply ask you that if this were your wife, your daughter or someone you loved, would you be so callous? I think not. So I offer a bit of advice that I used to tell my officers: Before you say or do something, ask yourself if your mother would be proud of your words or actions, and would you be happy to see it on the front page of the news? Clearly, with this remark, you failed both standards, and would have done well to remember that even if you are not a real police officer, as the head of their union you don’t just represent yourself, but also a profession that you have brought to a new low.

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20 comments to Reclaiming our Police Forces

  • CJ

    im so sorry. one of the things i hate more than anything in the world is a police apologist who says “they’re just doing their job.” it makes me hate capitalism too because it’s like, “of course! work and income is more important than your obligations as a human being to your fellow man on this planet.” No it’s no excuse I’m afraid. They make a human decision to pursue their job and do their job when they cuff any of us and ruin our lives and our families lives. They do. That’s just such a cop out from a king of cop outs that I am, I know it’s a cop out. JUST DOING THEIR JOB?! Hey! I’m sure the guy who pushed the fatal toxic gas button in the concentration camps made a mean BBQ on sundays and well damn he was just doing his job.

    If they can collect 12 jurors for a weed trial and these people who may have far less to do with the war on drugs, far less reason than a cop to hate it, far less have the jurors seen as a cop would, the extreme consequences of this war on drugs, no doubt a cop sees the prostitution, robbery, disease, hopeless abandon, but 12 folks from a random pool can go to jury for a small possession case and they take a stand and say jury nullification, I see no reason why police can’t do the same.

    and please never forget that we seem to have this pervasive thinking that the item of “law enforcement” is as old as mankind itself but its not. Our modern version of law enforcement was created in England, in the grand scheme of things, NOT that long ago. Our collective human history has been created in a prohibition and law enforcement free world. We got on just fine for nearly 2 thousand years, lest anybody forget.

    • Deep Dish

      The first article, by Radley Balko, was being descriptive, not prescriptive. Explaining, not justifying.

    • Windy

      Actually, CJ we got along just fine for about a million years without prohibition, law enforcement, public schooling or any number of other “law” atrocities under which we suffer today. True, life was usually more brutal during most of that history, but no more brutal than it is for “uncivilized” tribes in the Amazon, Africa and a few other remote locations, today. And our lives are somewhat brutal, too, just in different ways.

  • strayan

    “I smell pot”

    The three words that form the magical incantation to conjure probable cause from thin air.

    • The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures

      “I smell pot”

      Three words that erased Amendment IV of the Bill of Rights.

      Maybe about a million people on the front lawn of the White House with signs will get some attention in Washington. 52% of the population does not seem to be able to get any attention from them.

      This is more than sad.

  • Servetus

    The police can define how we regard our own communities. If the view of the officer doing his or her job is negative, the whole community is seen at fault, since it’s the community’s job to make certain that policing is done in ways that respect individuals and their rights as citizens. Failing in that duty can be devastating to societies large and small.

    One of my earliest recollections of the drug war was as a teenager. While driving home I came around a curve where a cop had stopped a motorist. I knew the motorist as a fellow high school student member. The motorist was standing outside his car facing the officer. The officer held a Colt .38 Police Special pointed at the motorist’s stomach, not more than eight inches away. The student’s sleeves were rolled up, and his arms were extended upright in a way that suggested the cop was checking his arms for needle-marks. I knew the cop wouldn’t find any. Heroin was not chic at our high school. I wished I’d had a camera.

    I didn’t need to worry as much about the local cops and their drug shakedowns. I wasn’t a Latino like the kid who had a loaded revolver pulled on him during an illegitimate, profile, traffic stop. A few similar and more dangerous instances of police transgressions were all it took for me to disown my community forever.

    A few decades later I was able to demonstrate my disrespect for the community’s authoritarianism by persuading a business owner not to relocate his company there. The loss in income and tax revenue was significant. The authoritarians and prohibitionists may not realize it, but there are hidden and often serious consequences to everything a cop or jurist does.

  • claygooding

    When the congress removes the bounty money for marijuana arrests the motivation for smelling marijuana will evaporate.

    If your Dr has questions:

    By Steve Elliott
    Hemp News

    http://tinyurl.com/cntwehg

    “”Medical marijuana is now legal in 18 states and is being studied worldwide by physicians and other healthcare professionals. One of the places professionals are learning more about medicinal cannabis is on the medical education website, TheAnswerPage.com.

    “Medical marijuana may be controversial, but it is an important area of study in healthcare,” said Stephen B. Corn, M.D., editor-in-chief and cofounder of TheAnswerPage. Corn is a clinician, professor and an award-winning, prolific author.”” ‘snip’

    The Answer Page:http://tinyurl.com/d76htaf

    This is a site our doctors can go to speak to other doctors and researchers,,should help get more md’s involved.

  • Servetus

    If the profits from pot aren’t that big of deal for the Mexico cartels, then why are they expanding their marijuana business? Mexico doubles down on its marijuana production:

    CORRE COYOTE, Mexico — Times are good for dope growers of the western Sierra Madre mountains. The army eradication squads that once hacked at the illicit marijuana fields have been diverted by the drug war that’s raging elsewhere in Mexico.

    The military’s retreat has delighted farmers who are sowing and reaping marijuana. Cannabis cultivation in Mexico soared 35 percent last year and is now higher than at any time in nearly two decades, the State Department says.

    It’s also been a boon for Mexico’s powerful organized-crime groups.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    Well maybe we just need to look in the right places. This couldn’t be a better place to start as far as I’m concerned, and with annoyed, vexed DEA agents for some frosting & a cherry on top too:

    Marijuana Eradimacation By [Law Enforcement] Plummets Over 60 Percent

    /snip/
    From that peak of over 10 million, the Drug Enforcement Administration said the number of marijuana plants eradicated dropped to 6,735,511 in 2011 and 3,933,950 in 2012, just a fraction of the 9 million marijuana plants the DEA had hoped to destroy.

    DEA officials attribute the decline in part to the state of California, declaring in the agency’s 2014 budget proposal that California’s financial constraints resulted in “the decreased availability of local law enforcement personnel to assist in eradication efforts.”

    The DEA also stated that drug trafficking organizations are moving their operations from public lands to private agricultural grow areas and that those who do still grow on public lands locate in “vast mountainous regions, which are more difficult for law enforcement to detect and reach.”

    Some of the agricultural marijuana grow sites have “operated under the guise of its state’s medicinal marijuana laws,” the DEA stated. Plants cultivated on agricultural grows are “super-sized and more robust” and can produce larger quantities of marijuana, according to the DEA.

    The DEA budget request also opined that the legalization of marijuana “would increase accessibility and encourage promotion and acceptance of drug use,” and said that federal prosecutors “continue a letter writing campaign to encourage property owners to voluntarily close dispensaries/grows.”
    /snip/

    Wah! Wahh!! Wahhh!!! Boo-fekkin-hoo.

    How long will it be before a single pot plant can supply the entire world forever at least in DEA lala land? Will these people ever get over their stalk counting fetish?

    • claygooding

      The main reason it is declining is because they have eradicated a lot of the feral hemp patches all over America while claiming they were illegal grows,,now the easy pickins are disappearing and they have to actually work at it.

      • Duncan20903

        2009 and 2010 did generate a world wide bumper crop.

        Did you recall that California terminated funding for the Campaign Against Merrywanna Plants (CAMP) recently? We did talk about it here. I recall posting links to that story here not that long ago. That’s a big part of their worries IMO.

        • claygooding

          The feds cut funding to the eradication teams and the state didn’t pick up the tab as they hoped they would.

          The same thing will happen with marijuana possession arrests when they quit funding all the overtime LEO’s get for making a possession bust just before shift change.

      • War Vet

        And another reason why they are finding fewer plants is because of the extreme droughts. Oklahoma used to rank between 6 and 8 of the most amount of pot grown in the U.S., but with the severe drought and hot winters, those plants are dying. That’s why you don’t see a whole lot of weed growing up in the trees anymore like you used to. And if you don’t know what I mean: it’s very common for large scale growers to put buckets up in the trees where the plants could grow free from cops, teens, and deer. Weed grown in trees were harder to spot from the air sense the shadows and foliage would cover them, but they would also be some of the most potent since it had more access to direct sunlight when it comes to outdoor grown bud. That’s why it’s fairly common to see buckets up in trees out in the middle of nowhere away from all roads . . . I guess some kids discovered that growing pot was easier while ‘high’ than ‘low’ back in the 80’s. When you are looking for a grow op, most people look for plants coming from the ground, instead of simply looking directly up.

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          I find that hard to believe War Vet. I actually had that idea decades ago and walked it through. Tell me how you keep them from dying from lack of water? Irrigation in the tree tops would be a bitch. Don’t forget about the law of gravity, it would require a bunch of power for some truly heavy duty pumps, and would stick out like a sore thumb. Perhaps in a rain forest it might work.

          Meteorologists don’t measure when a drought starts or ends by the amount of the rain, but by the level of the water table. I learned that during an extended drought which occurred despite the fact that it was raining almost every day. But it wasn’t raining enough to keep the water table from falling too low to keep the plants alive.

        • allan

          there is supposedly a way to grow in trees w/o buckets, or so it’s been reported to me. I’ve never tried it so can’t verify the reality.

        • Windy

          I know someone who grew a very nice plant in a pot in an apple tree in an apple orchard, easy to water due to the fact the height of the tree’s center, where the pot was placed, was only 6′ off the ground; and because there were so many trees just like it, the plant was almost unnoticeable unless one already knew it was there.

  • Dental floss tycoon

    I might be moving to Seattle soon and grow a crop of dental floss. Here’s another positive example of a sworn peace officer:

    Interim SPD Chief: Cops roles clearer with legalized marijuana

    Jim Pugel, the assistant Seattle police chief who was named interim chief this week, said Wednesday the state initiative that legalized marijuana has made things clearer for officers and that he’d rather work in a state where such an initiative has passed.

    “To me and what I hear from the officers, it’s clarified what our responsibilities are,” Pugel said. “It was very hazy with both the undefined and vague rules surrounding medical marijuana and the fact that we as a city stated that it would be our lowest priority of enforcement.”
    /snip/

    Did Gil Kerlikowske just turn over in his grave?