The Real Drug Thugs

Our Gutless Politicians Persevere In A Pointless War.
By Jeff Smith

OKAY, SO IT'S Thursday night and he's flogged after a long day at the machine shop, and he crashes on the couch in front of the telly. The wife falls asleep in the bedroom, no doubt dreaming of Archie Bunker and what a fun guy she married. Ah, what the hell: He's a good provider.

Smith Meanwhile, back in the living room, the front door implodes and there's this dark figure with a shiny thing in his hand. The householder awakens from his slumber, somewhat surprised. The dark figure turns out to be a No. 3 male and the shiny object is a knife. No. 3 tells the groggy householder to get up so he can stick the knife in him. Then, for reasons still unexplained, he herds the householder out into the backyard, takes $700 from him and leaves in a white Chevrolet Celebrity, '80 to '84 model, with a stove-in trunk, no plates, and a missing left rear hubcap.

The householder--a No. 5 male, incidentally--hits 911, grabs his .22 rifle, and gives chase. By the time he returns to the crime scene, which up until moments ago had been his home and castle, there are four police units parked out front, a chopper overhead, a dog and eight or nine cops swarming the place. His wife is wide awake now, and she's probably not thinking about Archie Bunker or fun guys.

To digress for a moment, the police have this shorthand for describing protagonists and antagonists in the daily dramas that are their occupation's preoccupation. They start with the acronym MINOW, signifying Mexican, Indian, Negro, Oriental, White. We know Negro is out of favor and that the fashionable label is African American, But MIAAOW sounds too feline. Then they substitute numbers for the letters. Thus a No. 3 male is a Negro, or African-American male. Like the guy with the knife. A No. 5 is a white male like Jim Davis, the victim.

In addition to being white and victimized, Davis is 26, a native Tucsonan, owner of his own machine shop, and not a drug dealer. I report this last by way of segueing into the burden of today's essay, which is that Jim Davis isn't very happy with the way the cops are treating him and his case. And that for their part, the cops aren't all that thrilled about it, either.

On that infamous night detectives told Davis his crime was classified as a residential robbery. Not a burglary, which is where somebody breaks in, steals your stuff, but doesn't introduce himself in person. Nor an armed robbery, which is your tete á tete to the accompaniment of something in steel--guns and knives being most popular. Just having been threatened with a pointy thing to the viscera, Davis felt "residential robbery" was a bit euphemistic. Neither did he take kindly to the cops' observation that most "residential robberies" are drug-related. It got worse when he reported $700 cash was stolen, and the police replied that, in their general experience, robberies involving more than 50 bucks are also drug-related...oh, and how come he had so much green money lying about?

Davis was beginning to feel dissed and distrusted.

The following day, when he spoke to Detective Bob Webster, head of the Robbery, Arson and Kidnapping Detail, he felt even worse. According to Davis, Webster came just shy of dismissing him and his case as just another drug-related rip-off, and a low priority in the grand scheme of things. According to Webster, in my subsequent chat with him, Davis wasn't that far off. Surprise!

As Webster put it, he's blunt in telling victims that most of the time residential robberies are about drugs, and most cases involving bills of Ben Franklin or better are likewise. This doesn't necessarily mean the victim is in the Medellin Cartel, it merely reflects the stats. I'm gathering here that Det. Webster is not big on bedside manner. I'm also gathering that Jim Davis is righteously and rightfully pissed, not only at the subtle implications that any goblin with a knife would have been justified in expecting to find either drugs or drug money at Chez Davis, but that his case is not as important to the police as the latest local bank robbery.

I sympathize with Davis totally. And with Webster.

With whom do I not sympathize totally? Bill Clinton, his drug czar, the U.S. Congress, the DEA, Fife Symington, but for reasons unrelated to the present instance...all these national and global leaders who continue to peddle the Big Lie that we're winning and must continue to fight this war on drugs.

As for Davis, well you'll never know how violated you feel when some asshole kicks your door down and threatens to kill you and takes your stuff. And then when the police seem sort of weary and blasé-bordering-on-suspicious of you. You, the victim.

And as for the police, well they're up to their collective Sam Brown belts in drug and drug-related crimes.

"Most of our bank robberies, like the woman with the motor-scooter recently, are drug-related," Det. Webster told me. This is pathetic. Bank robbers used to be at least as glamorous as Dillinger or David Grandstaff: Today they're a bunch of losers looking to score enough cash to get high.

And it's not as though the cops aren't taking the Davis robbery seriously, Webster said. Nine officers, one helicopter and a very focused German Shepherd with lots of teeth does not bespeak disinterest. And the case was--repeat, was--assigned to a detective. The trouble, said Webster, is simply one of huge caseloads, and the seemingly arbitrary hierarchy of priorities whereby bank robberies tend to take precedence over residential robberies. And the detective assigned to the Davis case happens to be assigned also to Tucson's most recent bank robbery.

Beyond the observable fact that it's not just burglars, muggers and shoplifters any more, whose crimes are the means to the end of supporting a drug habit, Webster said robbers now binge on crime in order to binge on their drugs.

"We're seeing them 15 times in four days," he said.

So I said, "Well, then you cops ought to be in favor of legalizing drugs, so the junkies won't have to steal stereos and rob banks and threaten Jim Davis with a knife, to raise cash to support their habits."

And Webster said, "I won't even get into that."

Which is definitely not saying he endorses the decriminalization of illegal drugs, but sure as hell tells me he recognizes the irony of current global drug policies.

"I don't think it's any secret it's a vicious circle," Webster said. And well-said at that.

But I don't want to get Webster in any more trouble than I probably already have, so I'll just say this my own self:

Our gutless national and international leaders, in refusing to admit what they know is true about the inevitability of drug use, are literally forcing the pathetic, wretched end-users to steal to support their habits. Thus are they subsidizing the obscene wealth of the major drug dealers--much in the same way they subsidize the tobacco industry to help smokers kill themselves, and get rich doing it.

And thus does your government actually increase your chances of getting burglarized, mugged, robbed and even murdered.

If drug addiction were handled rationally as a health crisis, both physical and psychological, rather than as a crime, the largest single motive for stealing would be removed. Good old-fashioned greed would move from second to first and the overall burglary and robbery rates would plummet.

Bob Webster would have time to brush up his diplomatic skills and Jim Davis could once more doze off comfortably on his couch while his wife pondered the age-old question of why men are the way they are. TW

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