Pubdate: Wed, 06 Oct 2004
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2004 Messenger-Inquirer
Cited: Kentucky Bureau of Investigation


Being tough on crime -- particularly drug-related offenses -- is a winning 
political strategy and clearly one that Democratic Attorney General Greg 
Stumbo is trying to use to his advantage.

Stumbo announced Thursday that he would create a new department within his 
administration -- the Kentucky Bureau of Investigation -- whose primary 
focus would be targeting illegal drug trade.

But while Kentucky clearly has a drug problem it must address, Stumbo's KBI 
has the potential to do more harm than good. What Stumbo doesn't seem to 
realize is that his idea for addressing the problem is just more of the 
same, while Gov. Ernie Fletcher, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence and others are trying 
to move forward with new ideas that have real potential.

Kentucky is trying to head in the direction of attacking the problem at its 
root causes by educating people about the dangers of drugs and treating 
those with addictions. We know now that simply fighting drug use at the 
enforcement level is not only incredibly expensive, it's also not very 

But Stumbo's plan is flawed in ways that go beyond philosophical 
differences. There are already plenty of law enforcement agencies dealing 
with drug investigations. It's difficult to see how the KBI will add 
anything to the mix other than creating added confusion, more turf battles 
and another bureaucracy.

Recently, drug task forces around the state saw their budgets cut, some 
significantly, including the local Pennryrile Narcotics Task Force. While 
we hated to see this happen, we understand the need, because some of the 
limited resources available are being redirected into prevention and 
treatment efforts.

Rather than create another agency -- especially one at the state level that 
will likely be detached from local efforts -- Kentucky needs to make sure 
that existing agencies are better equipped. The local police and sheriff's 
departments, the regional drug task forces and the state police have been 
on the front lines of this effort, and they are in the best position to 
handle enforcement -- if given adequate resources.

We agree with Pence when he says, "What we do not need is another layer of 
law enforcement. We do need law enforcement personnel, but what we do not 
need is another agency."

Seeing through Stumbo's rhetoric to find the real reason behind the KBI 
plan is not difficult. If he can show he's tough on drugs as attorney 
general, that will only help him reach his higher political ambitions.

But there's no room in this fight for turf battles, and there's no room for 
political posturing. The fact is, the Fletcher administration has put 
together a solid plan that could actually change the way Kentucky addresses 
its drug problem. If Stumbo truly wants to make a difference, he'll work 
with them to see that it's successful, not try to pull Kentucky in the 
opposite -- and we think, wrong -- direction.
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