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Former South Bay Lieutenant Calls for Science-based Police Policies, Peace on Drugs

Sam Sabzehzar 2011-10-19 0 comments

By Diane Goldstein  |  Retired Lieutenant, Redondo Beach PD

Diane Goldstein calls for science-based policy for law enforcement

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recently released their report titled “Law Enforcement Priorities for 2011 and Beyond” based on survey results from 731 law enforcement leaders.

The report offered twelve strategies that would facilitate the collaboration of researcher and practioner that includes law enforcement agencies, institutions of higher learning, professional organizations and funders both from the public and private sector.

Some of the identified research themes in the results included the examination of drugs and alcohol, as well as the future of policing.

This report is laudable and properly moves law enforcement into the 21st century by recognizing that scientific evidence based practices can result in cost effective strategies in achieving public safety goals.

My concern is that law enforcement leaders and notably the federal government, has ignored past research and studies when it comes to the actual effectiveness of our national drug policies and the impact they have had not only on a micro-level within our communities, but on the macro-level as well in terms of foreign policy.

The recent lack of leadership and aggressive enforcement action by the Federal Department of Justice impacts all of us and helps to entrench the war on drugs culture which is really not a war on drugs, but a war on legal business owners, patients, taxpayers and all our communities.

California Law Enforcement takes its cue from the DEA and the DOJ as evidenced by the recent verbal jab by the California Police Chief’s & The California Narcotics Association lobbyist, John Lovell in the Los Angles Times.

In response to the endorsement of the regulation of Marijuana and the call to research by the California Medical Association, Lovell a paid lobbyist, instead of discussing and providing fact’s about why he disagrees chooses to personally attack the CMA through the analogy that the CMA must be high.

His attack really begs the question of why and how has law enforcement evolved into adopting business practices that are associated with protecting self interests?

I find the trend to have a lobbyist promoting and protecting the self-interest of public safety leaders troubling.

This demonstrates that as a profession we have moved away from what our jobs descriptions were, always first and foremost as peace officers serving our communities, and finding the truth wherever the truth maybe.

Instead our leaders both on the federal and state level have established their ability to cherry pick research, and reports, that continues to validate the status quo.

This has resulted on pressure on legitimate research institutions such as RAND to pull a recent report that did not support the views held by law enforcement and city leaders regarding dispensaries.

All the while, the DRUG Czar and the DEA still profess that the National Institution on Drug Abuse is unbiased. This in spite of a 2010 statement by a spokeswomen who admitted that their focus on research is on the negative consequences of marijuana use and they do not fund research based on the potential beneficial medical effect of marijuana.

As a-retired law enforcement professional I find the parallel of not searching for the truth and facts as any different then withholding exculpatory evidence proving a defendant’s innocence.

I ask now that the IACP has demonstrated the value and importance of research and developing evidence based practices are our public safety leaders willing to listen? Will things remain the same with an ongoing war on our families, our neighbors and our friends that continues to erode the respect that law enforcement once had?

The parallels of prohibition and today are now too large to ignore. The vision of a drug free America is not attainable in a free society such as ours, which should respect the constitutional constraints that protect us both as individuals, and as citizens of our own states from the heavy hand of over reaching federal intervention.

I would like to end with a quote, “Justice being destroyed; will destroy, being preserved; will preserve, it must therefore never be violated.” (Manu, 1200 BCE)

Diane Goldstein is a 21- year veteran of law enforcement and retired as a Lieutenant from the Redondo Beach Police Department, (CA). During her career she worked and managed a variety of tactical and investigative unit’s including the department’s Gang Enforcement Team (GET), The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), South Bay Platoon and the Crisis Negotiations Team (CNT). In 1996, as a member of the GET Team, she and other officers received the Herman Goldstein Excellence in Problem Solving Team Award by the Police Executive Research Foundation for their work combating gang crime in the city. She additionally taught in-service courses for the South Bay Reserve Academy, testified in front of the California Council on Criminal Justice at the request of former Governor Pete Wilson, and is recognized as a subject matter expert and trainer in the area of crisis negotiations and critical incident management.