Posted by Edmond Geary | Posted in Cocaine convictions, Drug charges, Law enforcement | Posted on 26-02-2011
There is a budget crunch in state government so every agency is looking to save its budget. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs is no exception. Director Darrell Weaver has just announced a “spike” in drug deaths in Oklahoma. He calls it a crisis.
There were 577 who died of drugs in 2009. Hydrocodone (Lortab) led the list as cause of 130 deaths, an increase of 17 deaths from the year before. Oxycodone followed wit 117, then methadone, which lead the list in 2002, caused 84 deaths in 2009, but it was down from 110 deaths in 2008. Cocaine caused 37 deaths, a decrease of 13 from the year before.
The use of different usage drugs and deaths caused by drugs will vary and certainly the use of drugs has been increasing in the last several years. But why does that justify a separate agency to enforce the drug laws? Every police officer, every deputy sheriff, every highway patrol trooper and town marshal and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent is enforcing the drug laws every day. If that isn’t enough, there are many federal law enforcement officers in the state of Oklahoma, including the F.B.I., who enforce the federal drug laws, which mirror state drug laws. So why does Oklahoma need a separate agency with a separate budget, separate buildings and salaried employees and pensions dedicated to enforcing the drug laws? Of course such an agency is always pushing the emergency alarm, calling for higher penalties and more money for their agency.
The drug war is similar to the military war fought by our national defense. There is always a fear of invasion just as there is a fear of drug crazies running around the country. There is always to announce a “crisis.” The fears are real because the dangers are real, but the manipulation of this fear and threat is a very old bureaucratic trait. There is no such thing as enough tax-payer money going to feed that will feed either the defense department or the drug agencies. They have become empires unto themselves, and anyone who has any pause in giving them everything they ask for is tarred as unpatriotic.
Notwithstanding there is a real danger from the misuse of drugs, that danger need not necessarily be attacked like a military target. If it is, that approach may remind observers more of the quagmire in Vietnam more than World War II: always more money needed, always more troops needed, but always more explanations and alibis instead of success. Victory is just barely out of reach- always. Just give us another 12% increase of funding and we’ll lick this thing for good.
Part of the problem is that the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs is almost oriented almost exclusively for punitive action, for “law enforcement.” This has not proved to reduce the use of drugs any more than the American military had the prospect of outlasting Ho Chi Minh. Drug education and prevention is given only superficial investment even though some different approach, like education and some new looks at prevention will be needed if we are going to seen anything different in the next decades.
Why don’t all the millions of dollars of cash money that flows to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs every year from forfeitures go to drug prevention instead of more automatic weapons, bullet-proof vests, bullets, and black SUVs instead of to teaching children the perils of using drugs without threatening them? At least going through the motions keeps the empire in business.