The Chicago Police Department has been facing some looming shortages of money and manpower. Whenever any law enforcement entity faces such problems, we libertarians have a stock solution: Stop wasting money on the War on Drugs. Use the people and equipment for something more important.
Which brings me to Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, who has said some interesting things lately. According to a Chicago Tribune article by Azam Ahmed, he’s deviating from the company line when it comes to the War on Drugs:
Weis pointed out that efforts to reduce the supply of cocaine have been ineffective, citing that the cost of a kilogram of cocaine has remained about the same for the last few decades.
Former police chiefs like Norm Stamper have been saying stuff like this for years, but it’s unusual for an active head of a police department to make such comments.
Even more unusual is an explanation Weis gave that sounds like a variation of the “Hamsterdam” plot line from the third season of The Wire. Weis made it clear just what his department is willing to overlook:
Ultimately, the priority to reduce violence trumps the department’s need to combat drugs, he said.
“Life has become extraordinarily cheap in some neighborhoods,” Weis said. “If a gang is dealing drugs and not killing anyone . . . that’s not on our priority list.”
If Weis is serious about this, and if he has the leadership skills to bend the department to his vision, the next few years could take Chicago law enforcement going in some interesting directions. I’m…optimistic.