Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Drug Task Forces in Constant State of Scandal

Friends and readers know that imbroglios involving drug task forces have occupied much of my time since the infamous 1999 Tulia drug sting. The most problematic task forces are funded by the federal Byrne grant program.

If you pay attention, drug task force cops misbehave all the time -- it's an egregious pattern extending well beyond Tulia or Texas, but which includes task forces all over the country. E.g., here's some typical, recent cases:

  • In New Mexico, drug task force officer stands accused of sexually harassing a female confidential informant.
  • In Indiana, a task force commander pled guilty to forging confidential informant payment reports in order to steal money.
  • In Longview, Texas, a black narcotics officer sued the Northeast Texas drug task force for racial discrimination.
  • In Colorado, a county candidate says a drug task force should be de-funded because of a botched raid in Frisco, CO.

Though it's more from incompetence than malfeasance, in Kentucky hundreds of cases may be tossed out because a drug task force was not properly constituted under the law. This California task force was sued for keeping its meeting closed during deliberations over whether to expand focus to include anti-terrorism work.

These multijurisdictional pseudo-agencies constitute a bureaucratic nightmare: They are federally funded, state managed, locally staffed and therefore doomed to fail. While law enforcement portrays the Tulia cases as enigmatic, anyone paying attention will spot misconduct cases cropping up near constantly among Byrne-grant funded drug task forces.

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