I thought this comment, from Boegiboe, deserved a place of prominence, especially since the threads on the tactics involved in the War on Drugs are winding down.
Comments at LOG and elsewhere have often noted that police action that focuses on the folks in charge often gets fixed, whereas police action directed at the riff-raff goes unchecked. I think there’s a lot of truth to this. Maryland police made a mistake in 2008 when they did a drug bust at the home of Cheye Calvo, mayor of a Baltimore suburb. They killed the mayor’s two dogs and generally pissed him off. He’s still on their butts about it, speaking on radio shows and using his contacts to get things done (I hope he’s doing as much as he says).
My understanding is that police always have the right to destroy any threatening animal, no matter the situation. The original reason was good: Dangerous dogs were being trained by drug dealers to attack uniformed people. The response in the arms race was to enable police to not have to think about defending themselves from animals. I don’t know whether the practice is still necessary: Whether it is or not, the result is that the beloved animals of drug users are in jeopardy. It’s a horrible outcome of what our country does really treat as a war. War has collateral damage. That a war has collateral damage is not an indictment of the war itself, only possibly of the tactic.
Anyway, I guess my point is that, while this kind of horrible video gets our hackles up, our outrage is as nothing to the growing influence of the police forces of this country. They will always feel they know more, because they’ve seen friends and colleagues maimed or killed by drug dealers and their attack dogs. They want more armor to protect their own lives, while the druggies (which includes the legalization crowd, whether we use or not) want them to not get that protection. The police in this country are becoming more and more isolated from the people they serve, because they feel threatened by us.
Any threatened animal is likely to lash out.
I don’t know where to go from here, but it seems less and less helpful to stir up anger. A commenter at Radley Balko’s blog demonstrated how he had posted a respectful link, warning of the disturbing nature of the video, and had left it for readers to decide what to make of it. Just getting the message out, but not bothering to voice your own rage. What those of us who are Drug Peaceniks are opposing at this point is not people, but the institution of the drug enforcement structure, and how it traps our police force in a hopeless fight against a very few evil people mixed in amongst a helluva lot of “civilians,” guaranteeing collateral damage even by the best intentioned.