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Polis Report

Chiefs Say No

By Corinne Asturias

A case could be made that some people are only happy if there's a war going on. What other explanation--aside from the heady thrill of blasting political cannons--for the Bob Dole and Dan Lungren notion that this country needs a renewed Drug War in the face of all information to the contrary?

In the latest poll of people who are actually informed on the subject, namely 300 police chiefs throughout the country, 65 percent believe that our nation's ongoing war on drugs resembles Vietnam, not World War II. And among the nation's top cops, 85 percent call for major changes in the way America deals with drug use, according to a joint study conducted by the Washington, D.C.­based Police Foundation and Drug Strategies.

"Police Chiefs want to see a balanced approach," Police Foundation President Hubert Williams recently told the Law Enforcement News in response to the report. "They recognize that a narrow strategy directed down a single corridor will not work."

Some other gleanings from the report:

  • Only 15 percent of the chiefs say punishment would be more effective than education, interdiction or treatment in controlling drug problems; only 10 percent of chiefs who have served in a narcotics division choose punishment over the other options.

  • Nearly three-fourths say that mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession have been only mildly effective in stopping drug trafficking; only 21 percent say mandatory sentences are very or fairly effective.

  • By two to one, police chiefs say that putting drug users in court-supervised treatment programs is more effective than prison time.

  • Only 3 percent believe that current law enforcement efforts have been very successful in reducing the drug problem.

    If the drug war mongers are really serious about a renewed offensive, they might listen to the folks on the front lines. Unless, of course, they just enjoy screaming "Charge!" and don't really care who wins.

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  • From the October 24-30, 1996 issue of Metro

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    Copyright © 1996 Metro Publishing, Inc.

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