Part of a continuing series, Part I is here.
While Remsberg and Calibre Press were conducting seminars on officer safety and survival, the sociological climate of police was changing.
In 1968, President Johnson created the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to centralize the response to illicit drugs. By 1971, President Nixon had declared a “War on Drugs” and by 1973 the Drug Enforcement Administration was formed. Initially, this encompassed a treatment based approach, such as the methadone treatment centers established in Washington, D.C. by Robert L. DuPont. A year after the centers had been established, serious crime rates dropped significantly. Richard J. Bonnie, The Virtues of Pragmatism in Drug Policy, 13 J. Health Care L. & Pol’y 7, 14 (2010). At the same time (in 1972 and 1973), the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, recommended the decriminalization of marijuana. Id., at 13. Twelve states have followed that approach. James Austin, Rethinking the Consequences of Decriminalizing Marijuana, NORML.org (Nov. 2. 2005).
Instead, the government moved towards a zero tolerance policy and strict criminal enforcement of drug laws. The term “War on Drugs” was used over and over, with other militaristic terms also being added to police language. We’ve done the same thing in the past, with the war on alcohol, commonly known as Prohibition.
The War on Drugs has paralleled the results of Prohibition. See Norm Stamper, Prohibition: A parallel to modern war on drugs, Seattle Times, Sept. 30, 2011. Chief Stamper (retired chief of police, Seattle) explains it more eloquently than I can, and more information is available at the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition website. The problem is that the drugs are winning and the police are losing the war. With millions of dollars at stake, drug gangs have increased the stakes and become more violent.
The police responded with SWAT teams.