The police chief of Gloucester, Massachusetts, recently made headlines for his unique approach in dealing with drug abuse suspects. Instead of arresting and jailing drug suspects, Leonard Campanello believes drug abuse is a disease that can be cured through rehabilitation programs. While the idea is a novel one, there are many problems with this approach that cannot be ignored.
Police offers are not case workers, nor are they attorneys or judges. The purpose of law enforcement is to enforce the law, not to make judgement on suspect actions, or determinations on any consequences and/or assistance that may be bestowed.
Most drug addicts will not willingly turn themselves in to police custody. Those who do often choose the course of action so as to avoid punishment, with no intention of changing their ways. Essentially, they are looking for a ‘get out of jail free’ card, and will resume substance abuse the moment they are released from this so-called “Angel Program.”
So far, 56 police departments in 17 states have implemented similar programs, and 200 treatment centers across the country have signed on as partners. This creates an environment where drug use and abuse is accepted. Why should anyone be responsible for their own actions when they know there is a safety net waiting — an absolution of transgression that comes with an all but guarantee of no consequence or punishment?
Rather than an “it’s not your fault” mentality, drug addicts need to be held accountable for their recursive actions. The fact remains that most participants in these programs relapse into their old ways within two weeks after treatment, creating a vicious cycle of ‘catch and release’ that results in a taxpayer-funded revolving door of failed policy.
Back to Basics
Education should always be the first tool for corrective action, but we cannot continue to allow illegal activity to go unpunished.
When a child does wrong, parents and caregivers first hand down an appropriate penalty, and then educate the child as to why the chosen action was undesirable, and how to prevent a recurrence. The adult version of this is incarceration, followed by rehabilitation.
The current “Angel Program” equates to merely laughing off a child’s transgressions, which all but ensures they will do the same (or worse!) before you can blink an eye.
by Frank Calling