That's what's happening nationwide right now with drug task forces funded by the federal Byrne grant program. We got rid of ours in Texas, thank heavens, but other states' task forces are participating in Operation Byrne Blitz, a national campaign to publicize arrests last week in order to influence debate in Congress over their money. I'd seen the stories, but didn't realize this was a formal PR effort until reading a story from Kentucky ("CKADTF arrests total 13, part of National drug blitz," The Richmond Register, March 8), describing a series of arrests that were
"coordinated on the dates in conjunction with Operation Byrne Blitz.”This happened informally in Texas when the task forces' fate was being decided, with local officials staging arrests then bragging to the local media how indispensable their services were. But it takes a lot of chutzpah to take that concept to the level of a national campaign and give it an Operation title. (Here's another news article where the link is made explicit.)
The operation was named for federal funding — Byrne/JAG — that was cut by President George W. Bush in an omnibus appropriations bill in December by $350 million. Byrne/JAG “provides funding to states and local areas to improve criminal justice system operations,” according to a National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition press release.
These agencies have nearly made official what was de facto true in practice, anyway, making arrests in order to pursue funding, not to improve public safety. Now, with "Operation Byrne Blitz," some drug warriors apparently have dropped all pretense.
I find the manufactured media "blitz" offensive and insulting to the public. Let's hope Congress sees past it.
Related recent posts:
- Sheriff real, unintentional star of 'Tulia' film
- Byrne task force funds mainly financing low-level drug enforcement
- How do you define success in drug enforcement?
- Byrne task forces account for huge proportion of drug arrests in other states
- Congresswoman still spreading Tulia's lessons in Washington
- Texas' Tulia Lesson: Dems should join GOP in abandoning failed drug task force strategy