The fastest way to change policing in America is to stop trying to use police to solve a medical problem.
In the 50 years since President Nixon declared the War on Drugs, this program has never met its goals even once.
We have spent a trillion dollars during those 50 years. $215 billion annually right now.
We haven’t made a dent in the black market for drugs that we have declared illegal.
Black Americans have been the focus of the War on Drugs since the very beginning.
Black Americans are stopped, frisked, arrested, prosecuted, jailed and shot at a rate that is sickeningly higher than any other race.
The United States has 2.3 million Americans in prison right now. That’s 2.3 million families!
The War on Drugs has stoked fear in Americans that has been exploited to justify putting more money and ever deadlier weapons into the hands of our police agencies.
I do not blame the police. We have asked them to solve a medical problem using police tactics. Drug addiction is a medical problem. If I were a police officer and I was assigned to destroy the black market, I would want to be armed and armored myself. We are asking the police to solve a problem that is not solvable with any of the skills that they have. The police culture of today is just what you would expect after making these demands for 50 years.
Changes to our police departments will come much slower, if at all, if we don’t change one of the biggest causes of the current situation; the War on Drugs.
We have an opportunity right now to change American’s minds about drug abuse and addiction.
Imagine an America where you can stroll through any neighborhood, at any time, and feel safe to make a new friends with each person you meet.
An America where property crime is down by 90%.
An America where a home invasion so rare, that people have almost forgot about it.
An America where seeing a thug walking down the street is very rare.
An America that has reduced Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) by more than half.
An America where the police can walk through the community smiling with citizens and occasionally being asked to look in on this family or another because they are going through a rough time and the calming hand of a respected officer goes a long way toward making people believe there is a good way to get back on track.
An America where 175 Americans didn’t die everyday of an overdose. Where almost no one dies of an overdose.
An America where families can stay together while working through an addiction that affects their brother, sister, mom or dad.
An America where there is no black market for drugs because there are no clients willing to buy illicit drugs that haven’t been tested for purity or potency.
An America with courtrooms where citizens know they can go to get a fair shake because judges have ample time to devote to each case.
An American that doesn’t need to build a new prison for 100 years.
I’m imagining an America where I would move my entire family as fast as we could pack.
An America surrounded by sound democratic neighbors whose governments haven’t been corrupted by the gigantic amount of money and drugs going back and forth to America.
An America where addicts can choose from a number of successful treatment programs that just didn’t work before 2018!
We can have all of this quickly with little effort and we will save huge amounts of money doing it.
The only hard part is that we have to change our minds about how we deal with addiction.
Changing minds can be difficult. Winston Churchill said that you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing . . . right after they’ve tried everything else. He also said that people who never change their mind, never change anything. Pretty profound for a politician who was only half American.