Radley remembers 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston who died in a botched drug raid in Atlanta a year ago and revisits what progress has been made towards reforming the practice of armed SWAT teams breaking into people's homes in the dead of the night, often based on little more than the word of an informant. Unfortunately, although Atlanta has taken strong steps after the gross corruption of its own narcotics unit was revealed, there's been too little and there will never be any significant progress until our politicians take on this issue and enact sensible drug control policies.
To be fair, in the past, it would be the kiss of death for a politican to give anything other than the appearance of being 'tough on drugs,' which is how these draconian laws came into being in the first place, but that's no longer the case.
This week, the Drug Reform Coordination Network will release a Zogby Poll on paramilitary police tactics. The numbers are surprising. Nearly two-thirds of those polled don't believe "aggressive entry tactics such as battering down doors, setting off flash-bang grenades, or conducting searches in the middle of the night" are appropriate tactics when the suspect is a nonviolent drug offender.Thanks in no small part to the Herculean efforsts of drug policy reformers, the people finally are coming to the realization that the war on some drugs is not only failing, but is causing more harm than the drug trade itself. Now all we need is for our clueless political class to figure out that 'tough on drugs' isn't equivalent to 'smart on drugs.' In fact, it's just plain dumb.
In fact, in every demographic group Zogby measured, a majority of respondents said such tactics should not be used in routine drug investigations, including 56 percent of self-identified Republicans, and 52.5 percent of respondents describing themselves as "very conservative."
Update: And speaking of botched raids, here's another. Next time it could be you.