The Drug War Has Failed
Does the above statement make me controversial? Hardly. The evidence towards the efficacy of drug prohibition and the manner in which it has been enforced across the United States and Canada is staggeringly clear: it does not work and may even be making matters worse.
But what if a police officer said this?
What if a member law enforcement openly said that the laws and policing practices we have for addressing drugs in this society are not only ineffective but making the problem worse; that prohibition has failed and we need to quit repeated our mistakes and legalize, regulate, and control drugs?
Well, that… that might be controversial.
And it is exactly what the guest for this episode of the ATTMind podcast is here to say.
Major Michael Hilliard (retired) began his 27-year policing career in 1975 as a patrolman in an economically depressed neighborhood in East Baltimore. He served as an internal affairs detective where he coordinated Baltimore youth programs and led an undercover squad that investigated violent crimes and low-to mid-level drug crimes.
As a lieutenant assigned to the Northeast District, he helped establish the largest citizens’ patrol in the mid-Atlantic area, the NorthEast Citizens’ Patrol. Hilliard also served six Chiefs of Patrol as an executive officer. In his final position before retirement, he directed 911 operations and police dispatch as a major in the Communications Division.
He is on the show as a representative of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, or LEAP. They are a nonprofit organization “composed of police and other criminal justice professionals dedicated to educating the public about the harms of drug prohibition”, advocating “for solutions across a broader range of drug policy and criminal justice issues”[source]. LEAP wants to end the war on drugs, and Maj. Michael Hilliard is on the show to talk about why.
During the interview, we speak on more than just the issues around drug policy, prohibition, and what brought Maj. Hilliard to his current advocacy against the drug war. We also speak of the problematic image police represent as agents of said drug policy, as well as issues of abuse of power, following unethical orders, and being seen as predators by the people they have sworn to protect.
p.s. this interview was recorded via Skype to phone and there is, unfortunately, no video. You can still listen to it on youtube, though.
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- Why Hilliard became a police officer.
- How he went from leading investigations against drug crimes to lobbying against drug prohibition.
- The impact of the drug war on crime, communities, and public safety in general.
- Why we should to legalize, regulate, and control drugs.
- Losing friends to the drug war.
- Problems with law enforcement’s current mentality towards drugs.
- The drug war’s role in worsening the opioid crisis.
- The police cultures’ perception of the drug culture and where it differs from the truth.
- A police officer’s experience ‘busting’ someone for possession.
- The issue of police misuse of power.
- Police community cover-ups and crooked cops.
- Ethical responsibility when faced with unethical orders.
This is the organization that Maj. Hilliard was representing on today’s show. They are a nonprofit organization “composed of police and other criminal justice professionals dedicated to educating the public about the harms of drug prohibition”, advocating “for solutions across a broader range of drug policy and criminal justice issues”.
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