Monday, January 15, 2007

It's best to check the weather before praying for rain!

Friday, January 12, 2007
News staff writer

Birmingham's homicide rate is directly related to drug activity, and the Police Department should be reorganized to address the problem, City Council President Carole Smitherman said.

Smitherman said she will ask Mayor Bernard Kincaid and Police Chief Annetta Nunn to make adjustments and transfer more officers to the drug and vice unit.

"One of the major reasons for our increase in homicides is drugs," she said. "I would like to see an increase in funding for vice and narcotics."

Smitherman's comments come a week before a planned meeting between the council's Public Safety Committee and John Sloan, chairman of the UAB Department of Justice Sciences, to discuss ways to better fight crime in Birmingham. Smitherman is not a member of the committee, but she said she will attend the meeting.

Smitherman said 34 percent of the city's homicide victims had some form of controlled substance in their systems.

"We want to have more undercover police and informants working to get the information to the police," she said. "I'm saying we need to have a zero tolerance for drug users and abusers. Let's look at a new approach."

Smitherman said a new focus on drugs should come even if it means cutting funding and staffing elsewhere in the department.

Police Capt. Mike Fisher, head of vice and narcotics, said Thursday he was unaware of Smitherman's initiative and expressed caution.

"I think that before you come to that conclusion you need to talk to the people that work in homicide that can tell you the exact cause of the homicides," Fisher said.

Cutting drug activity to reduce violent crime sounds like a good plan, but it doesn't work, said Robert Sigler, a University of Alabama criminal justice professor.

"Whether they're using drugs or not, they're hurting people because they are nasty people," Sigler said.

Drug and alcohol use does change the personality of some individuals, Sigler said, but those personality changes are not frequent enough to account for the city's homicide rate. In addition, Sigler discounted the frequency of violence caused by drug turf fights.

Sigler said he wouldn't be surprised to find drug use prevalent among violent offenders, but that it is not the root cause of their violence.

"People who have little regard for the law and for the rules of society are more likely to use drugs," he said.

Sigler repeated a frequent statement by Kincaid and Nunn that most of the city's homicides were the result of domestic situations where friends, family and associates killed one another.

"If you really want to get murder under control, you need to aggressively enforce and discourage low levels of friendly violence, violence among neighbors," Sigler said. "Those low levels of violence we tolerate, and then it gets out of hand."

I waited a few days before posting this because Mrs. Smithermans husband is a state Senator whose support we will likely need to pass the Compassionate Care Act and I didn't want to piss him off.

I'm over that now and am going to say what I have to say whether it pisses him off or not. He really needs to muzzle his wife.

First, thank goodness for people like Mike Fisher, head of the vice and narcotics squad for being honest and calling bullshit when he sees it!! How humiliating to talk a bunch of smack about drugs and crime and have the head of the drug squads in Birmingham slap you down like that. OUCH! As Mark Twian once said, "It's best to check the weather before praying for rain."

Second, thank goodness for people like Professor Sigler who understands the issue and took the time to explain to the News that while this 'sounds good' it won't work and fails to address the underlying issues.

As to Mrs. Smithermans comments....anyone got a barf bag handy?

"I'm saying we need to have a zero tolerance for drug users and abusers. Let's look at a new approach."

A NEW APPROACH would not involve doing THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND OVER! Increasing funding for drug units is something we have been doing for many years. They fail to do their job (because it is an impossible job that in reality is designed to fail) and then demand more money because they failed. If a private business worked in that fashion they would all be out of business. You are not suppossed to reward people for failure!

A new approach (if it was intended to actually reduce drug crime and deaths caused by drugs) would look at regulating the markets and not punishing the consumers. Unregulated markets lead to black markets which lead to copious amounts of money because of the high risk being taken. In short, the current prohibitionist laws are the REAL CAUSE OF CRIME in relation to drugs. Think about this....when is the last time you saw the Budweiser man and the Michelob man having a gun battle in Wal-Mart over display space?

What a loon to come out and say we should cut funding to all other departments (violent crime, sex crimes against children, highway patrols for drunk drivers, domestic violence and so on)and give those funds to the drug squads so they can terrorize people for smoking a joint.

The problem with the police department in Birmingham now is that they over-fund the narcotics squad and leave all of the other departments struggling to get by. That is why there were 109 murders in Birmingham last year...oh yeah and according to Police Chief Annetta Nunn Satan is responsible.


Amanda Harrell said...

you are spot on as usual my dear!!

Amanda Harrell

The Mad Patriot said...

The Budweiser man and the Michelob man are usually the same man, as both brands are brewed and distributed by Anheuser-Busch. A better analogy would involve the Bud man and the Coors man.

Incidentally, I'm sure at least some of the homicides in Birmingham occur under the influence of alcohol alone, not to mention a number of accidental deaths and injuries that can be attributed to alcohol. Maybe it would be best not to draw Nunn's attention to that sad fact, as I'm sure her solution would be to bring back Prohibition.

Joey said...

You are exactly right. The only thing making drugs bad are that they are illegal, and the only thing making them illegal is the ignorance of people who think they are bad. Yeah, some drugs are nasty. Meth, crack, heroin, to name a few. But in British Columbia, Canada, they set up safe injection sites where people can get a prescription to these horrible drugs. What this does is takes the drugs off the street, and makes it regulated by the government. But meth is the hard one, since it is easily made by items you can buy in any store. The only reason people start making meth is so that they can support their addiction, which they can't support because they've got a shitty job that pays them $5.50 an hour. So then they start selling the stuff because they need the money, and then they realize they can get more money this way. A good way to keep people from selling drugs like meth would be to raise the friggin' minimum wage! It's impossible to survive on what it is at now. But every year when it goes past congress to raise it, they vote no. But every year when they vote on whether to raise their own wage, of course they vote yes. Greed and ignorance are ruining this country.

Roberto C. Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR said...

I agree with Joey that Greed and Ignorance are ruining our country. I also want to add that any type of Prohibition has tended to be counterproductive. [People will do something prohibited because it is prohibited]. One has to look at the Prohibition Era of the 1920's.

The Mad Patriot said...

Well, this year it looks like the minimum wage will pass Congress and get vetoed by "The Decider", but point taken.

My biggest problem with meth is that the bastards making it have now managed to make it nearly impossible for me to buy an effective decongestant. If I ever meet a meth dealer, I'm gonna blow my nose on 'em.