A very good post by David Bratzer at the LEAP blog: Black police officers? You can’t talk about them here
Definitely worth reading.
I’d like to focus on one part of that post, a response David once got from “Inspector Leviathan Hobbes,” the pseudonym for the founder of the Thinking Police Blog.
Not only have I been reading, but I’ve been thinking. It’s difficult as a police officer to agree with the legalisation and regulation of drugs. Why? It’s because we see the evil ruination that it has upon addicts. Not only that, but those who are the real dealers, the Mister Bigs, are extremely difficult to bring to justice. Add to this the consequential victims, the ones who have their property stolen to fund habits, and it seems difficult to say to all of them that what LEAP proposes is the way forward. However, after nigh on 20 years of reading philosophy, I’ve fallen foul of the Platonic adage I swore I never would – ‘an expert is someone who knows nothing at all.’
What I mean by this is, just because as police officers or MOPs we see the full impact that drugs misuse has on the wider community, not only on the user themself – and because we know the law inside and out regarding drugs – we can sometimes become blind to the alternatives. Just because the law and societal opinions have been the same throughout the lives of almost all of us, it doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t mean the law was devised because it works. Sometimes it’s wrong. I can point to many examples, as I am sure many of you can. Think about it this way – if drugs WERE legalised and regulated, the Mister Bigs would suffer – the ones who deserve to suffer. Prostitution, a drug-reliant trade, I’m guessing would halve at the very least, as would most ascquisitive crime. You can’t get away from the fact that the majority of acquisitive crime is committed by habitual drug users. Yes, there are issues around the practicalities of this proposal, but they’re not unachievable in the overall aim.
To have someone see the light like that is a beautiful thing.
And it’s also a point that we who are in drug policy reform need to remember…
Not everybody knows, or has been able to absorb, what we know â€” that which gives us the certainty of our convictions regarding legalization.
We understand that to a certain extent. We understand, for example, that there’s a vast part of the general public that has been propagandized for so long and have not been well exposed to the truth that it’s going to take a fair amount of education and time to get them on board.
And then we know that there’s another group of opponents who will never be interested in reform, either because they are venal and profit from the war on drugs, or because they are sadomoralists. We can write them off.
We have to be more aware of a third category â€” those immersed in the drug transaction world whose experience has been so skewed that they are already certain that they know the full truth, and are just unable to open up that tiny bit to absorb the legalization message. They’re a hard nut to crack, and tend to be in areas like law enforcement and treatment (and sometimes religion), where they can easily be mistaken for profiteers or sadomoralists.
These people fervently believe in the rightness of the drug war because they have been overwhelmed by the wrongness of the drug world. Ironically, they are so close to it that they are unable to step back and see that their drug war has caused the problems that they want to solve.
But just like with Inspector Hobbes, it is possible to crack that nut, and when you do, you’ll probably have a strong ally. This is another reason why groups like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition are so critical to our effort.
My dad is a retired minister and was very supportive of the war on drugs (he had seen the devastation of addicts in his ministry). I helped him learn why the war on drugs wasn’t the answer, and now every time I visit him, he asks me how long it’s going to be before I succeed in getting rid of this war on drugs!