Wednesday, October 03, 2007

LEAA and Counting Chickens

To show you how old I am, I once planned a dissertation on the development, implementation, and impact of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. One thing I always remember about the leadership [sic] of the late and long-departed LEAA was how quick they were to jump on any reported decrease in crime to prove they were having an impact while remaining strangely silent every time the crime change was up (and ending up having virtually no credibility at all). It taught me that it was probably a very wise policy to let several reporting periods go by with the same outcomes before starting to associate cause and effect. Drug warriors are making a (justifiably) big deal about the hit cocaine suppliers have taken by new Mexican initiatives to stop the current traffic networks. But drug crime and law enforcement are a classic “complex adaptive system,” and, just like the way foreign meth moved in when we shut down mom-and-pop operations, the suppliers are likely to find new channels. I can’t see them saying, “huh, that door closed, guess I better start selling Amway.” So, yes, this disruption is a good thing. Hopefully it will whack back some coke offenders filling up our prisons more in the future, and we certainly hope it continues. But let’s see three or four years of it before we start making it front-page news.

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