The relationship between violent crime and drug use is a complex and controversial issue. The general belief is that the more drug use there is in an area the more violence there will be.
In general the more drug abuse that goes on in the area may correlate with higher levels of unemployment and crime. So it’s somewhat surprising and interesting that in San Francisco is systematically reducing the emphasis on prosecuting drug-related crimes.
How drug addicts should be punished and rehabilitated is another controversial and complex issue, and San Francisco may be one of the first U.S. cities that has decided to cut down on making drug arrests.
Violent Crime Decreases
While more research definitely needs to be done on the topic, Greg Suhr who is the police chief of San Francisco says that since there has been a notable decrease in drug arrests and there also seems to be a noted decrease in violent crime. While he goes on to note the while he can’t prove irrefutably that the two are linked, he believes that there is a correlation between the two.
The attitudes of San Francisco policemen have notably changed towards drug addicts. While selling and doing illegal drugs is still a crime, the narcotics unit has been mostly disbanded, and while they will still arrest people, they won’t set up stings to catch people in the act.
In fact, most drug arrests occur because of someone being reported to the police. Otherwise, Greg Suhr notes that he has spent most of his life feeling sorry for the drug addicts he has arrested, rather than believing they are hardcore criminals.
The Connection Between Violence And Drug Arrests
But what connection is there between the decrease in drug arrests and decrease in violent crime? The most apparent answer seems to lie in utilizing the police force in a different way, with a different scope.
Instead of spending their time sniffing out drug crimes, they are focusing more on violence-related crimes and cracking down on the people who commit those crimes. This may have resulted in the notable decrease of violent crime.
This also fits into what Greg Suhr seems to assert, which is that drug addicts are mostly people to be pitied rather than treated as violent criminals. While Suhr holds contempt for drug dealers who prey on other people’s miseries, he believes that the decrease in violent crime is because the police force has been better utilized.
Change Of Attitude
San Francisco is one of the most liberal cities in the United States. It’s where the counter-culture and hippie movements blossomed. So it’s only fitting that this is where attitudes towards drug users is shifting, even by the police force.
Instead of the usual attitudes towards drug users, where they are chased and sniffed out and prosecuted, the police force has decided that they should spend their time pursuing people who commit more serious, violence offenses. While San Francisco is currently the only city that has had such a marked attitude shift towards drug users, it has shown that there may be other ways to approach people who have issues with drugs than by simply arresting them.
Over time, other types of treatments or techniques are being researched to help long-term drug users. Ultimately, most drug users can be rehabilitated, and instead of using funds and resources to send them straight to jail, maybe this can lead to ways that they can be given treatment instead.
While this issue is sure to be controversial, with many against easing up on drug arrests, the results that Greg Suhr has reported are undoubtedly remarkable and may led to more effective methods of helping those who struggle with drug addiction.