McCarthy says war on drugs needs some tweaking

December 5, 2011

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(WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy speaking at the City Club Monday.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday law enforcement is getting the war on drugs wrong, and they've been getting it wrong for a long time. In a speech to civic and business leaders McCarthy said law enforcement has been focused on drug dealers.

"We seize product.  We put it on the table.  We put up an organizational chart.  We say look, we've done a great job.  We arrested all these drug dealers.  We seized all of these kilos of cocaine.  We walk away and by the time we turn the corner there's somebody else standing there, right?" McCarthy said.

McCarthy said as long as somebody goes to that corner to buy drugs, a supplier will show up. "What happens if two suppliers show up?" McCarthy asked. "We might have actually caused violence by our narcotics enforcement because now those two guys are going to be in competition for the same spot."

McCarthy said police have to get rid of the demand for drugs by staying on that corner so that when customers arrive to buy drugs, there's just police and eventually they'll stop shopping there, the market will be gone and the dealers will have no reason to be there and they'll stay away, too.