Radley Balko’s crime column is on the Columbia, Missouri drug raid we’ve been talking about.
The officers in that video arenâ€™t rogue cops. Theyâ€™re no different than other SWAT teams across the country. The raid itself is no different from the tens of thousands of drug raids carried out each year in the U.S. If the video is going to effect any change, the Internet anger directed at the Columbia Police Department needs to be redirected to Americaâ€™s drug policy in general. Calling for the heads of the Columbia SWAT team isnâ€™t going to stop these raids. Calling for the heads of the politicians who defend these tactics and promote a â€œwar on drugsâ€ thatâ€™s become all too literalâ€”that just might.
Residents who want to voice their opinions about the Feb. 11 SWAT raid at Jonathan Whitworthâ€™s southwest Columbia home will have an opportunity […] The 7 p.m. [today] meeting has been moved to the Columbia City Council chambers at the City Hall Addition, 701 E. Broadway, to accommodate the large crowd board members expect. Concerned residents, bloggers and commenters on the Tribune website have organized on social networking websites to form groups and spread the word of the opportunity for their voices to be heard.
More changes have been made to Columbia police search warrant protocol in response to a Feb. 11 SWAT raid that Police Chief Ken Burton said was flawed. […] Effective yesterday, the narcotics sergeant and SWAT commander involved in investigations have been removed from the decision-making process about whether and how a drug search warrant will be served.
From Law Enforcement Against Prohibition: New Obama Drug Strategy Just Like Old “Drug War” Approach
“The drug czar is saying all the right things about ending the ‘war on drugs’ and enacting a long-overdue balanced strategy focused on a public health approach,” said Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore cop and incoming executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Unfortunately the reality of the budget numbers don’t match up to the rhetoric. Two-thirds of the budget is dedicated to the same old ‘war on drugs’ approach and only a third goes to public health strategies. My experience policing the beat tells me that it’s certainly time for a new approach, but unfortunately this administration is failing to provide the necessary leadership to actually make it happen instead of just talking about it.”
The strategy devotes 64 percent of the budget to traditional supply reduction strategies like enforcement and interdiction while reserving only 36 percent for demand reduction approaches like treatment and prevention. And, due to accounting changes made under the Bush administration and maintained by Obama, the budget ratio doesn’t even take into account some costs of the “war on drugs” such as incarceration.
Drug policy reform advocates are pleased, however, with the strategy’s support for syringe exchange programs and its criticism of laws that bar people with drug convictions from receiving public benefits like student aid.
“It’s great to see the administration starting to talk like they want to actually change failed drug policies,” said Franklin. “But we can’t let them get away with claiming that they’ve ended the ‘war on drugs’ while we continue to arrest 800,000 people a year on marijuana charges alone.”
Must-see TV: Gary Johnson on The Colbert Report
|The Colbert Report
|Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
This is an open thread.