Pubdate: Fri, 24 Sep 1999
Date: 09/24/1999
Source: Virginian-Pilot (VA)
Author: Lennice Werth
Note: Headline by newshawk

Dear Editor,

It is not the least bit surprising that the police union
representatives are decrying the criticism from Judge Cales (Aug. 24,
1999, Portsmouth police union decries judge's "slap in face" by John
Hopkins in The Virginian-Pilot).

The police want job security just like anyone else and they perceive
the "war on drugs" as a major factor in the funding of their
departments. People will never stop wanting to use drugs and as long
as the problem is considered criminal instead of medical it will not
be solved. As long as the trouble continues police will need an
ever-increasing flow of funds.

It is good for the union's priorities, paychecks and new

Why, though, do the police deceive by omission the role they play in
the creation of the laws they enforce.

Every February you can find these very persons at the General Assembly
in Richmond unabashedly lobbying.

Sgt. Garret Shelton is correct that the legislature has not repealed
any drug laws. In fact, thanks to the efforts of his organization the
trend is to pass ever-stiffer laws regarding drugs.

Years ago I did exactly what Judge Cales did. I complained to police
that these laws were ineffective and police should concentrate on
catching violent criminals.

I remember being told that if someone doesn't like the laws they
should go to the state capitol and get them changed.

It sounded easy. I decided to try it. I started to attend legislative
meetings and quickly understood why the police find it easy to get
laws passed.

They, police and prosecutors, have a large number of lobbyists working
feverishly to preserve their interests, which is, as I said, big
budgets and jobs. The people who build prisons are there too. The few
volunteer reformers like myself who take time off work to oppose them
don't have a chance. Our system is composed of checks and balances.

A judge is doing his job when he criticizes enforcement gone astray
and he is correct to be concerned. The drug war is a failure and the
laws need to be changed.

Lennice Werth