Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Ending task force boosts drug enforcement in Lubbock

Since the demise of Lubbock's South Plains Narcotics Task Force, the number of drug arrests in that city has increased significantly, reports a local TV station. Mostly that's because police can focus on their own communities:

Monitoring narcotic activity takes manpower, and police say that's one way they've benefited from the break up of the South Plains Regional Narcotics Task Force.

The Lubbock Police Department was the largest entity involved in the Task Force before it ended in August. Agents were responsible for drug activity in 18 total counties, which they say can be hard to monitor. Now the police department is concentrating on the area they know best. ...

"We can get a whole lot more done right here, we can make several cases a day, where we were making several cases a week before.

So even for those who think the strategy of pursuing low-level users is an appropriate law enforcement tactic -- and their number does not include the author of this blog -- the drug task force system is drastically limiting the efficiency of Texas law enforcement.

Apparently busting drug users in Lubbock is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. It's so easy, they aren't even trying to flip snitches anymore:
Lubbock narcotics officers are changing their tactics. In the past, if a person was arrested for narcotics, they were sometimes given the option of giving up information or going to jail. Now, (Lubbock PD Lt.) Shavers wants everyone to go to jail.

They also have several more cases pending., [sic] many are a result of being able to spend more time in Lubbock.

The Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in December recommended abolishing Texas' drug task force system, a move civil rights groups have advocated for several years. Now, it turns out that when a drug task force goes away, drug enforcement isn't diminished. Instead, the number of drug arrests actually increases. Plus the state has identified serious needs on which it could better spend the grant money that pays for these unaccountable pseudo-agencies.

So why does anybody want to keep these things around again?

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