Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jan 2007
Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Copyright: 2007 Mountain Xpress
Author: Arnold J. Mandell, M.D.


As someone who, as founding chairman of the Department of Psychiatry 
at the University of California (La Jolla), established and 
supervised the first multimodality drug-treatment program (with over 
1,500 patients and treatments ranging from methadone maintenance to 
hospital detoxification) in California, I wish to add my comments to 
the current and past dust-up evoked by night-time peripatetic Carl 
Mumpower and involving the Asheville Police Department and the 
members of the Asheville City Council.

Beginning in 1970, I modeled our program after the one that was 
highly researched and carefully organized (and repeatedly 
reorganized) by the University of Chicago. Before beginning our 
program, I spent several months embedded in the university's program 
on the South Side of Chicago, getting a feeling for the complexity 
and delicate relations between medical treatment, social 
psychological intervention, intimate involvement of law enforcement, 
the development of indigenous community teams of ex-addict, 
paraprofessional psychotherapists and workers in the community, job- 
and career-rehabilitation programs and sophisticated oversight by 
Cook County, the city of Chicago and the National Institutes of 
Health in both consultation and funding.

Continuous evaluation of the efficacy of the various elements of 
intervention was always ongoing.

First off, let me say that I've been in town since the mid-1990s and 
have been impressed by the relative lack of drug-related violence, 
the realistic handling of the issue by Bill Hogan and the APD, the 
geographical isolation and non-expansion of Asheville's drug 
marketplace, the lack of general community harm by this currently 
invariant aspect of urban-American culture and the sophisticated 
comments of Terry Bellamy, Gary Jackson and most of the City Council 
members relative to the complexity of the social, economic and 
psychological causal elements known to be at work in drug use, abuse 
and its amelioration.

Mumpower's monotonic, unsophisticated law-enforcement story, with its 
potential for personal political valence for the righteous, is, alas, 
also an invariant of many urban settings.

The obvious lack of appreciation for the complexities of the issue 
is, thank goodness, not shared by the Asheville law-enforcement 
community or a majority of Asheville's City Council. If Mumpower 
continues to make his unproductive and potentially harmful noise, I 
think the Council should vote him a fellowship to spend time not in 
safe (please note) and unknowing walkabouts in Deaverview, Pisgah 
View or Lee Walker Heights, but in the sophisticated and at least 
partially effective university programs in New York, Chicago, San 
Francisco or San Diego, where his righteous rage might be replaced 
with knowledge and personal motivation to work on the real conditions 
underlying drug use and abuse in American cities such as Asheville.

It is my opinion that Asheville has been able to achieve a community 
equilibrium in this difficult area, and a lot of thought ought to be 
expended before new and potentially perturbing action is taken.

Arnold J. Mandell, M.D. Research Professor, Emory University School 
of Medicine Professor Emeritus, UCSD School of Medicine Asheville
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