Pubdate: Sunday, 05 December 1999
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 1999, The Tribune Co.
Author: John G. Chase, Palm Harbor


The Tribune's editorial ``Getting the facts on profiling'' (Nov. 23) agreed
with the proposal by Sen. Kendrick Meek, D- Miami, and Rep. Tony Hill,
D-Jacksonville, to set up a task force to study traffic stops in Florida.
This study will not solve the basic problem. Let's follow it to its natural
end point:

- -- Law enforcement agencies put the task force's study into effect.

- -- Law enforcement personnel become less biased and less efficient in
interdicting drugs. They know that bias in traffic stops could hurt their
careers if reported publicly.

- -- Some law enforcement personnel quit in disgust at this game of ``let's
pretend'' and replacements are hired.

- -- Data is gathered, analyzed, reported and discussed.

- -- During the campaign of 2000, politicians try to convince minorities that
no bias exists, while somehow trying to still appear tough on drugs.

- -- After 2000, the situation slowly returns to nearly normal.

We are wasting time. Each year the antidrug budget rises, drug use rises,
drug addiction rises, the overdose death rate rises, drug-arrest rate rises
and new prisons are built. Each year Congress passes yet more coercive but
ineffective antidrug legislation infringing on our Bill of Rights freedoms.

The longer we allow this situation to continue, the more public trust in
government erodes. The solution to profiling can be found in the history of
Prohibition. Then it was Germans, Italians and Irish; today, blacks and
Hispanics are profiled. It took 13 years for the noble experiment to run
its course. The answer was to tax, teach and treat. -
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart