To Protect and to Serve the War on Drugs

BBC NEWS | Americas | Drug stash found in US police car

We are led to believe that the huge stash of cocaine found in this undercover Dallas police officer’s car was an accidental discovery. The car in question was an asset seized from a drug operation, and the police claim that drug traffickers have become so sophisticated in their means of concealing contraband within the various open spaces of a car that the police had no idea that nearly $400,000 worth of cocaine remained hidden protected by various hydraulic schemes inside this car which was seized from a drug dealer.

The NPR series on how drug seizures have become a means for police departments–especially those in the south states of the United States–to fund themselves casts serious doubt on the authenticity of this claim of accidental discovery. Incidents in which police seize private assets legally but illegitimately are on the rise, and the impetus seems to be the independence that the departments gain from the municipalities and constituencies that support them. Confined by meager budgets that restrict their hiring practices and their appetites for high-powered fire arms, police departments have found a bounty in poorly written laws that empower them to declare private assets as ill-gotten arbitrarily and to seize those assets thus declared  illicit. Thus, the poorly written drug-related asset seizure laws have become a means for police departments to disentangle themselves from the accountability that binds them to the communities that they serve. If these drug seizures are appreciable, police departments no longer need popular support to receive additional funding. They can simply seize what they need.

At least, one can only pray that this is not the destination toward which we are headed. For if it is true that police departments do view and employ drug seizure in the manner outlined above, then the war on drugs has been transformed from the politicians’ wet dream to a perverse vehicle that empowers the most corrupt elements of society against the society that created them. If any of the foregoing has any truth, then the war on drugs is what the war on drugs is seeking to protect.

In other words, the war on drugs is no longer the pursuit of the protection of the public. It has become exactly what the most pessimistic among us had predicted. The war on drugs has become a power grab that seeks only to perpetuate itself. More drugs lead to more war which leads to more power to those who are waging the war.

Put away that joint, if you know what’s good for you. In truth, this means “put away that joint if you want to keep your car and your house”.

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