Updated: November 29, 2012 6:40AM
The “War on Drugs” suffers from a public relations malaise these days.
It’s a waste of money and time. Treat the addict; don’t put them in prison. It’s an illness, not a crime. Drug users are victims, not evil. You’ve heard it.
While we understand that the rising tide of cheap, powerful heroin is nurtured by complex factors, your hometown police force does not have the luxury of ignoring addiction. The ultimate antidote to America’s drug dependency requires a wide-ranging, sophisticated re-evaluation of remedies, but police still must protect us from addicts and thwart drug trafficking as best they can.
That’s why the recent trend among Southland police forces to merge resources and share intelligence to fight drugs, especially heroin use, is a smart move.
If you have not been paying attention, the Southland is awash in cheap, powerful, addictive heroin. Teens and 20-somethings who start out thinking the $10-a-pop cheap high of heroin is a recreational choice soon find they have no choice. Young addicts will — and do — give up their lives in exchange for the high.
When 220 law enforcement officials from 86 agencies gathered for a forum at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills recently, it was a tacit acknowledgement that local police forces can’t handle the problem independently.
The No. 1 suburban crime is burglary to cars. Addicts hit 50 to 60 cars a night to acquire items to barter for heroin money. The proceeds are pumped into the addict’s bloodstream and then into the pockets of gangs. Money is power. Criminal commerce is not a neutral activity. It destroys communities if left untended.
We know that the new solidarity among local police is not the only answer. We have massive sociological questions to address. But before the perfect alternative to the “War on Drugs” is found, we have a right to the protection of law.
In the end, drug crimes damage everyone else’s right to peace and security. That right to life is the first enunciated American principle. We’re glad police are willing to fight a “Smart War” for our rights.