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  • 16

    Burn the Byrne
    Freedom; Posted on: 2008-04-16 13:55:48 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Democrats are reviving a flawed crime program.

    The Emerging Surveillance State

    Radley Balko

    Last month, police in Kentucky went on a 24-hour drug raid blitz. According to local media accounts, the raids uncovered 23 methamphetamine labs, seized more than 2,400 pounds of marijuana, identified 16 drug-endangered children and arrested 565 people for illegal drug use.

    That's quite a day's work.

    What inspired the blitz? Complaints from the citizenry? A vicious string of drug-related murders? An outbreak of overdoses?

    No, none of that.

    It seems that they were concerned that the federal government is about to turn off the funding spigot.

    "During 'Operation Byrne Blitz,'" a local television station reported, "state police and highway patrol agencies, local police and sheriff's departments, and drug task forces throughout the country conducted undercover investigations, marijuana eradication efforts and drug interdiction activities. The collaborative effort, named for the federal grant program which funds many of the anti-drug efforts, underscored the impact that cuts to this funding could have on local and statewide drug enforcement."

    The federal grant they're referring to, the Byrne Grant, is problematic for a lot of reasons. Chief among them is the way it warps police priorities by tying drug arrests to the federal teat.

    The grants are often tied to arrest statistics, which encourage police officers to target low-level drug offenders instead of major dealers and suppliers. The grants often create multi-jurisdictional "drug task forces," which—because their authority extends across several counties—many times aren't directly accountable to anyone.

    News Source: reason


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