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by Peter Moskos

June 24, 2015

On arresting drug offenders

From Cop in the Hood:
Because of these problems and the “victimless” nature of drug crimes, most drug arrests are at the initiative of police officers. On one occasion, while driving slowly through a busy drug market early one morning, I saw dozens of African American addicts milling about while a smaller group of young men and boys were waiting to sell. Another officer in our squad had just arrested a drug addict for loitering. I asked my partner, “What’s the point of arresting people for walking down the street?” He replied: “Because everybody walking down the street is a criminal. In Canton or Greektown [middle- class neighborhoods] people are actually going somewhere. How many people here aren’t dirty? [‘None.’] It’s drugs. . . . If all we can do is lock ’em up for loitering, so be it.”
I don't think that's the answer. But... I'm not certain what is the answer. Certainly junkies are a quality-of-life issue. The best we could do is regulate the drug trade. The worst we could do is decriminalize low-level drug offenses. The latter solves neither quality-of-life issues nor the violence around public drug dealing.

1 comment:

Dave- IL said...

Wondering if you heard about this. Saw it on Gawker: