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.