Tuesday, February 9, 2010

David Simon on the Drug War and the death of policing

In a compelling interview with Bill Moyers, the producer of The Wire, David Simon outlines how the drug war has destroyed the profession of the policeman. First, he points out how 25 years ago 30-35% of prisoners were incarcerated for violent crimes, and now violent crimes account for only about 7% of prisoners. He then explains how police get promoted by valuing "easy to go after" cases, and drug cases are easy. You find a guy who has drugs on him, and you charge him. Easy. And a cop can make an arrest every few days by just shaking up some guys in the right neighborhoods. So he can make a lot of arrests. Whereas the cop who spends his time investigating murders and rapes has to put in many, many hours to gather enough evidence to make a bust. So the guy who makes the drug collars (which is basically a non-violent crime) gets promoted.

And the guy who tries to solve crimes where citizens were actually hurt? He gets passed over and told to go make more arrests.


Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

I've mentioned on Twitter how depressing The Wire became for me. The people, situations, accents, apathy, frustration, hopes, dreams....were all people, places and things I have seen and experienced. That show was really TOO good for me. I stopped watching after the middle of the second season. A group of scholars in London even held a symposium about the show....I believe they've written papers about it.
I'm sure David Simon KNOWS what he's talking about.

PatricktheRogue said...

I haven't seen the series yet, but I probably should - it sounds brilliant.