Monday, August 08, 2016


What we need in Florida are laws that protect citizens from over arrests in the same manner that our fisheries are protected from overfishing. Is that too much to ask? To any reasonable person the police should give the highest priority to investigating violent crimes, next to investigating property crimes and finally to investigating crimes where there is no victim such as drug crimes. Officers should be given incentives to catch big fish not small ones. 

Right now against all logic nonviolent drug cases provide incentives for officers that are skewed toward investigation and arrests. Officers who want to be promoted investigate drug crimes.
In Pinellas County and throughout the State of Florida the war on drugs is still a high priority for law enforcement despite the fact that possession or sale of drugs are nonviolent crimes. Reasonable expectations would indicate that police resources could be better utilized in investigation, prevention and reduction of violent crimes. Yet police departments and prosecutors continue to churn out prosecutions of low-level, nonviolent drug offenders such as those who merely sell or possess marijuana or commit prescription fraud violations.

Part of the reason for the continued push for finding and arresting nonviolent personal drug use is that many of the police chiefs and other leaders of local police agencies came of age in their professions when the war on drugs was in full bloom. They regard any drug use as morally and legally indefensible to the point that law Clearwater law enforcement even used fake subpoenas to obtain evidence in drug cases. They believe that any drug use leads inevitably to the use of other harder drugs. Many agencies have long-standing policies of specific quotas for drug arrests. When the numbers of arrests go down, officers are told to look deeper, investigate harder and to find the drugs, because by God, those drugs are there. Naturally the result is that more drugs arrests are made, but those investigated and prosecuted are of less significance as the net for taking the catch grows larger and larger. The shame of this is that there is now harsh federal drug sentencing even for cancer patients.

One solution for stopping the overfishing of fellow citizens by police is to only allow investigations and prosecutions for drug weights that are now categorized as felony amounts. All the others could be thrown back into the sea of humanity until they grow large enough to be regarded as a fair catch worthy of the time and effort to reel them in.

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