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.