Lessons in how NOT to make a drug arrest

LAKE ORION, Mich. (AP) — Police in suburban Detroit said they made the right decision to use a 14-year-old boy last month in a sting to bust a suspected drug dealer.

They did not.

Lake Orion Police Chief Jerry Narsh said such cases involving children are rare, but that the matter was handled appropriately and that the teen wasn’t at risk.

Right. So, they’ve made a determination that this guy that they just needed off the streets so badly that they used a 14 year old to arrest him is NOT going to be a risk to this kid when he gets out of jail? Or, do you just mean that the kid was able to walk up to the guy and buy marijuana with no issues? Huge difference when talking risk, y’know?

At the core of this issue is that police did not take the time to weigh the consequences of their actions. This is evidenced by saying that the teen was not at risk.

“We had a situation where the man next door had been trying for months to sell marijuana to this teenager and he (the boy) told his mother who went to us for help,” Narsh said. “Since we believe he was targeting teenagers, the only way to get him off the street was to arrange a buy.”

They employ an interesting definition of the word “only” out in Lake Orion, I see. I don’t profess to be a police officer or know the best maneuvers that police can make. But, this is awful police work and everyone involved should be embarrassed.

He noted that 17-year-olds participate in stings for illegal tobacco sales and 19-year-olds are involved in stings targeting illegal alcohol sales.

This strikes me as maybe the most ridiculous aspect of this. Oh, so, they sent the kid into an established business that maybe was breaking some rules? Not at all. There’s a difference between drugs being sold from random homes and alcohol being sold in an established building.

Later, they say that the guy they arrested was a “monster.” I mean, monster’s aren’t known for their retribution or anything, are they?

But, seriously, lets not pretend that this is a situation that a 14 year old should be tossed into just because police think they’ve minimized his risk. Anyone who thinks confidential informants and cooperators aren’t at risk simply because they have police monitoring their moves should read this article from the New Yorker.

We do a lot of poor things in the “war on drugs.” I don’t want to turn this into a rant about the ways in which law enforcement has failed society, but, just that we do a disservice to everyone in society when we put our young people at risk. Not just a 14-year-old as in this situation, but, when we use college-aged kids in this confidential informant situations. The New Yorker article above mentions a story of a 19-year old in Detroit. Arrested for a small amount of marijuana. Killed for then setting up the person who had sold her the marijuana.

Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, which is handling the criminal case, said it didn’t approve of the tactic.

Credit to their Office for making this decision.

But, wait! The Lake Orion police are not done, they are about to double down on their flawed logic:

“I’ve had a case in our town where a 12-year-old was snorting heroin,” Narsh said. “Here you have a situation where someone is approaching potential teenage customers. It’s a sad reality but we have to devise ways to deal with it and stop it.”

No one is saying “don’t devise a way to deal with it and stop it.”

I think the response is going to be more on the line of, “hey, don’t devise the laziest way possible to deal with it and stop it.”

Because, hey, why take time to make a case against the guy without using a 14 year old, when you have a 14 year old ready to get his Serpico on, right? Shameful.


Detroit Tigers Game 163 Open Thread

There will be plenty of time for Miguel Cabrera discussion after the Tigers season is over with. For now, he’s out there and there is evening baseball to be enjoyed. This is the second straight season that the AL Central is coming down to the a one game play-off to determine the Division champion. The AL Central might not be the best division in baseball, but it certainly has been competitive lately.

The Tigers send Rick Porcello to the mound against Scott Baker for the Twins. Porcello, being 20 years old probably will not have experienced a baseball atmosphere quite like what he will see in a raucous Metrodome. To read more about Porcello heading into today’s game, I recommend this MLive article on the confidence the Tigers are putting behind Porcello. Leyland calls it the “toughest place” Porcello will have ever pitched.

Here are a couple more links heading into the game today:

The Detroit Free Press looks back at the Twins and Tigers this season with a nice photo spread.

Tigers support being shown in-state from Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio, as he sports a Tigers jacket to his press conference earlier today.

Detroit Tigers Weblog covers game 163.

Mack Avenue Tigers has a talk with a Twins blogger for thoughts on the game with some perspective from the opposing point of view.

Lastly, Rod Allen has implored Tigers fans, on the TV broadcasts all year long, to put aside doubts about this team and just enjoy the ride. The game today is one of the most enjoyable settings for baseball you can imagine. The one-game playoff can bring something special (I learned that all the way back in 1989 with the film Major League) and hopefully the Tigers will deliver today.