Title: Drugs and crime across America: police chiefs speak out

Citation: Peter, D. Hart. (1996). Washington, DC; Police Foundation

Keywords: Drug Education and Treatment, Code Enforcement, Chiefs Perceptions

This report describes a 1996 U. S. National survey of the views of the police chiefs (N=318) on the problems of drugs and crime. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents regarded drug abuse as serious in their communities, even more serious than domestic violence, property, and violent crimes. A majority of the respondents indicated the problem has grown in magnitude over the past 5 years. The chiefs favored a more balance and proactive approach that includes prevention, education and treatment in addition to interdiction, enforcement and punishment. Mandatory sentences were not seen as an effective response to drug trafficking. More than 90% reported their communities had initiated school-based education programs; 80% had used buy-bust and community policing programs; and 70% had used directed patrol and street sweeps. Medium and larger cities had used civil code enforcement to close crack houses. In the largest cities, chiefs emphasized the need for education and treatment of the underlying causes of the problem. The most constant complaints were the need for enforcement resources in smaller communities and for additional treatment program capacity in larger programs. A majority of the chiefs opposed shifting federal funding from drug prevention and treatment to law enforcement and prison construction.