Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2002
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Address: P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse, N.Y. 13221-4915
Contact:  2002, Syracuse Post-Standard
Author: Alexandra Eyle
Note: Alexandra Eyle is editor of The ReconsiDer Quarterly, a publication 
of ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy in Syracuse
Bookmark: (Corruption)


Cayuga County Sheriff Peter J. Pinckney is being charged by the state 
Attorney General's Office in connection with $4,000 worth of missing cash 
seized indrug arrests and other crimes involving abuse of the public trust.

No doubt the sheriff's friends and supporters, as well as most people in 
Cayuga County, would like to believe that the sheriff is innocent or, at 
worst, that he's just "one bad apple in the barrel." What they may not 
realize though, is that, in some ways, Sheriff Pinckney is a victim himself.

He is a victim of policies that produce incredible temptation for even 
outstanding, award-winning officers, as well as bad cops. How? By making 
drugs illegal, we make them highly profitable in the black market so 
narcotics officers, who have easy access to the drugs, often become dealers 
themselves. In addition, police can legally seize property and cash from 
alleged drug dealers before they even are found guilty of any crime.

The temptation to sell seized drugs or pocket cash is tempting to police 
who encounter rich dealers daily. In addition to being tempted, they are 
frustrated by the fact that every time they arrest a dealer, another takes 
its place. There is no end to the war they're fighting and, to make matters 
worse, the bad guys are often richer than the cops. So why not take a 
little off the top, they often reason.

Similar scandals to Cayuga County's have occurred recently in Buffalo and 
Rochester. But we're not alone Upstate. A brief look at police officers who 
have succumbed to the temptations and frustrations of our failed drug war 
shows that this is a national problem:

a.. Sheriff's department officers in Prince George's County, Md., stole 
$45,000 from a drug dealer, then kept their stash secret while lobbying for 
laws that would allow them to keep it.

b.. California anti-narcotics agent Richard Wayne Parker was sentenced to 
life in prison and fined $16 million for operating a multi-state 
drug-running network.

c.. In Cleveland, Ohio, police officer Gregory Collin was charged with 
running a cocaine ring out of a topless bar.

d.. Last year, a police detective in Jackson, Miss., who many times had 
been named "Officer of the Month," was convicted of charges of "extorting 
money from drug dealers to fix their cases."

e.. In Manhattan, Willie Parsons, a decorated homicide detective who once 
turned in his own brother for heroin use, was among 13 people arrested by 
federal prosecutors and charged with working with a Queens-based Colombian 
drug ring to sell heroin and cocaine in several states. The cops were 
turned in by one of the drug ring members, who claimed they had stolen 
$200,000 from her.

f.. In Coffee County, Ga., Sheriff Carlton Evans, about to be arrested and 
charged with conspiracy to grow more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, ran 
into the woods and shot himself.

g.. The Los Angeles Police Department is still enduring the effects of 
their Ramparts Division scandal, which placed the department under the 
jurisdiction of the feds. Since the scandal broke, more than 20 officers 
have been fired, suspended, relieved of duty or have quit amid allegations 
they planted evidence, lied under oath, stole money and, in some cases, 
shot unarmed suspects. Many face charges, and more than 90 criminal cases 
were dismissed. What is most frightening about this last story is that 
while it may be larger than many in its scope, it is not unique. When it 
comes to the Drug War, there is no shortage of police corruption stories. 
Since the inception of the Drug War, the toll of thousands of police 
felonies has been dreadful: armed robbery, kidnapping, stealing money, 
stealing drugs, selling drugs, perjury, framing people, even deliberate 

As former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara said in a recent article 
for the ReconsiDer Quarterly, "We've created a monster that is eating away 
at something far more important to the country than drug use, and that is 
the integrity of and belief in our criminal justice system. We cannot end 
cop gangsters by merely plucking a few bad apples from the barrel. We can 
only end it by ending the Drug War policies that breed it."
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