Necessitating a Drug War Surge?

This is certainly good news for a couple of Providence communities:

The Providence Police Department’s success in turning around two neighborhoods notorious for blatant drug-dealing and crime has made it a model in the Obama administration’s national drug policy this year. …
The 2011 National Drug Control Strategy, released Monday, singles out the Providence police for their work in disrupting the two neighborhoods’ drug markets and significantly lowering crime rates, while improving relationships with residents.

It’s encouraging to hear that residents feel safe again, but one has to wonder: Did the demand for illegal drugs actually shrink? The article describes the concerted, targeted effort required to achieve the improvements and alludes to the need to maintain them:

[Lt. Michael] Correia cautioned that the initiative isn’t a cure-all. It works best in defined neighborhoods, he said. The police and the residents need to be committed to making it work. And, there’ll always be “maintenance work,” Correia said, as drug dealers move on the edges.

Of course, there wouldn’t be drug pushers if their efforts didn’t expand the market, so to the extent that they aren’t out in a particular neighborhood, demand will shrink — or at least not grow as quickly. And the more police raise the risk (and therefore the cost) of participating in the drug market, the less activity there will be.
Still, the unanswered questions are whether and to what extent such activity increased in nearby neighborhoods and what the cost is in tax dollars and liberty. (The article mentions street-level security cameras.) Expanding this initiative would necessitate something not unlike the Iraq surge, whereby police would win one neighborhood and expand their efforts across the entire country, increasing the scope of their activities in those neighborhoods that have already been won.
On the broader scale, America has to address the underlying causes of drug use and trade, and most of those are social, cultural, and economic.

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Dan
Dan
10 years ago

I am directly familiar with the programs instituted in those areas. There are two reasons why they were successful in their aim: 1)Those specific communities and drug dealers were the exception rather than the rule. Long story short, they met a very narrow list of criteria, the communities were willing to change, and the drug dealers were willing to change. 2)The police didn’t resort to War on Drugs tactics. They gained the trust of community leaders over time and partnered with them to make meaningful, lasting reforms instead of trying to arrest their way out of the problem, which never works. Although a much more effective approach overall, considerable taxpayer expense was still involved and it is highly debatable whether the (self-reported, self-serving) government numbers are accurate and whether the problem was simply pushed elsewhere for other communities to deal with. Overall, Obama’s ONDCP has taken a much more enlightened approach to drug control policy. This is one of the few areas where conservatives are way off-base and liberals do a better job by adopting the libertarian approach. It is also in favor of treatment-based drug courts, which have been a huge success. The office is still backwards on marijuana policy, but in its defense, it is required to be by statute (it is forbidden from advocating for legalization). The office acknowledges that the Drug War has been a miserable failure, and has abandoned use of the term and many of its tactics. The real problem is the DEA, costing taxpayers billions each year for no results except waste of life and suffering. The DEA is, as far as I have been able to discern on my visits to their headquarters, run by an insulated group of certifiable madmen who cling to their proto-fascist enforcement tactics lie wreckage from a… Read more »

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

We don’t have people hanging out in street corners or in boarded up buildings selling vodka or Marlboros. Why? Because you can buy them at stores very easily. The quickest way to put these guys out of business is to legalize it all. Imagine if drugs, gambling and prostitution were all legalized and controlled through the government? What would that leave these people to do? Loan making?

dave
dave
10 years ago

The drug dealers and pimps would be fully qualified to get jobs working for the government. And fit right in. Then the union thugs would organize and get some dues-paying pimps and hoes off the streets. Winning.
<<< Imagine if drugs, gambling and prostitution were all legalized and controlled through the government? What would that leave these people to do? Loan making? >>>

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

“union thugs would organize and get some dues-paying pimps and hoes off the streets.”
At least then they’d get taxpayer funded health care and a pension.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

Maybe this explains the marked increase of dealing going on in my neighborhood, which isn’t in a housing project, but is close-enough to do deliveries.
Frankly, I don’t care about the dealing itself, it’s no more-or-less of an annoyance than having a 600-capacity night club within walking distance. What I mind are is the behavior of ‘outlaws’. The dealer on my block kicked over all of his next-door neighbor’s trash last week for no reason, then threatened me when I called him out on it.
If the drugs were legal and regulated, the dealers would be out of business, replaced by shop keepers who are invested in their locations, instead of covert drug-houses that pack up and move every few months.

michael
michael
10 years ago

“[Lt. Michael] Correia cautioned that the initiative isn’t a cure-all. It works best in defined neighborhoods, he said. The police and the residents need to be committed to making it work. And, there’ll always be “maintenance work,” Correia said, as drug dealers move on the edges.”
Last night four people were shot during a child’s birthday party five blocks from the Lockwood Projects. Three women and a man. The child fortunately was not one of the victims. On the West End a machete attack put a man in the hospital. Drug related? I hope so, because if this is how people not on drugs behave, we’re doomed.

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