It may be safe to say that retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper will eventually be remembered not for his career in law enforcement, or for the botched response to the WTO riots of 1999 to led to his resignation, but instead for his current dedication to ending America's greatest folly: The "War on Drugs."
Stamper writes on the Cato Institute's Unbound blog Wednesday about one of the rarely-mentioned effects of the drug war--specifically how it is "undermin[ing] the role of civilian law enforcement in our free society."
Receding support for Prohibition is happening in large part because of virally circulated news accounts and videos of law enforcement's disturbingly harsh tactics in the drug war. My former colleagues are making clear that besides causing thousands of deaths worldwide and costing billions of taxpayer dollars, the drug war's most serious collateral damage has been to undermine the role of civilian law enforcement in our free society.
Stamper cites a recent raid in Columbia, Missouri, in which police SWAT team members stormed into a house, shot a family dog in front of children and manhandled a suspect that was later found to have had only a pipe with a small amount of marijuana residue in it.
Video of the raid went viral and has worked to discredit the police force is the eyes of locals.
The larger point that Stamper makes about the above raid--and about thousands of other similar raids that are carried out every year in America, but might to have the benefit of being video taped and released to the public--is that the image of paramilitary police kicking in the doors of low-level drug users and dealers (especially of marijuana) only works to increase the distrust of citizens toward law enforcement, most of whom are doing the honest work of keeping the public safe.
In short, the drug raids are the shame of law enforcement.