Pubdate: Fri, 05 Jan 2001
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2001 St. Petersburg Times
Contact:  490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Section:  Opinion, page 13A
Author: Rick Meredith, Chris Howard


Law Enforcement Limits Needed

I couldn't agree more with the Dec. 30 editorial, Unwarranted "drug war" 
tactics. The Delta Task Force anti-drug squad in Manatee County, the 
Rampart Division in Los Angeles and the on-going Aisenberg trial, are clear 
evidence that checks and balances for law enforcement need to be in place.

The vast majority of police officers are law abiding, honest citizens, but 
the drug war and the lure of easy money has corrupted a countless number of 
law abiding, honest citizens -- including police officers.

To disallow a suspect's attorney from deposing the investigating and 
arresting officers before trial would be a travesty of justice that would 
further erode civil liberties and confidence in law enforcement. 
Law-abiding police officers who do their job within the legal guidelines of 
the law should not have a problem answering a few questions from a defense 
attorney before trial.

As someone who is experienced with thermal-imaging cameras, I must agree 
with the editorial's view of them. These cameras are imprecise tools, and 
the images they produce are open to a police officer's interpretations. 
With these cameras, officers could literally peer through concrete walls 
and watch a husband and wife making love. To use an instrument this 
powerful without a search warrant would clearly be an invasion of privacy 
and unconstitutional.

To the citizens who are willing to grant the government this kind of 
unbridled power in the fight against illicit drugs, I have one thing to 
say: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little 
temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --

Rick L. Meredith, Tampa

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Re: Unwarranted "drug war" tactics.

Simple drug use and possession should be tolerated, as in the Dutch or 
Canadian models. Drug problems (read: addiction) are health problems, not 
criminal justice issues. Jails are not equipped for treatment of addiction.

Fully funding a drug court would just dump more tax dollars into the 
criminal justice system and continue to entrench the culture of 
incarceration. Using the Florida National Guard as a police force is rather 
disturbing and Gestapo-like. How long before we must show our identity 
papers at the checkpoint?

Chris Howard, St. Petersburg
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