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Guest Column: More taxes or cut police and fire

July 1, 1993

Guest Column: More taxes or cut police and fire

By M.L. Simon

I’d like to propose doubling our police force. I know, I know. We are having a budget crisis in our town. The politicians are calling for either more taxes or cuts in the police and fire departments, and I’m calling for an increase in the police force. How can I possibly do this?

It’s simple. I propose getting the police off dope.

I have seen estimates of the amount of effort police put into prohibition at from 33 percent to 75 percent of the total police effort. If it is just 50 percent, we can double police effectiveness without adding a person to the force by making drug crimes the very lowest priority of our police. Even if the effort is only 33 percent, it means we can get 50 per cent more policing for no more dollars. It also means if we have to reduce the size of the force to save the budget, we can do it without imperiling the safety of the community. The question then comes “What should the police do about dope?” The answer: not much. The police should prevent street dealing. It is a public nuisance. The police should prevent distribution to minors at about the same level they police alcohol distribution. That is it. To clean up our street drug users, police, if they must get involved, should refer addicts to treatment.

If the State wants to come in and police for drugs, fine. Let them pay for it. If the Feds want to come in and do the undercover work necessary to ferret out dealers in medical marijuana, fine. Let them bear the expense. If they want a moral crusade, let them pay for it. We need policies that work, not moral crusades.

Not every law needs to be enforced. Take the Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Law for instance; you have probably never heard of its enforcement, but it is still on the books. So there is no reason why we as a city can’t get our law enforcers focused on things like robbery and rape, and let our superb medical establishment deal with medical problems like addiction.

On top of that we have the sterling example of the Bush family in Florida whose daughter will get treatment, not jail, for cocaine possession. She will not spend time in jail, and she will not be pressured to snitch on her suppliers or friends for a lighter sentence. This is America. If Noel Bush, the daughter of the establishment, needs treatment for her drug problems so does every other American with a drug problem. At the very, least, if we can’t provide treatment, we ought not provide a jail cell. No point in wasting money on what doesn’t work, especially in these times of strained budgets.

M. L. Simon is an industrial controls designer and Free Market Green. (c) M. Simon – All rights reserved.

Permission granted for one-time use in a single periodical publication. Permission also granted for concurrent publication on the periodical’s www site.

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