A ceremony for Baltimore Police Det. Marty Ward, who was killed making an undercover drug buy 25 years ago, prompted Baltimore Sun crime reporter Peter Hermann to reflect on the drug war. At the memorial, cops talked about continuing the drug war and “standing the line” but it was clear that 25 years of seemingly futile work has made little headway, Hermann says.
The amount of heroin Marty was negotiating for in such an elaboarate and dangerous sting is roughly the same amount cops today get in standard street rips. Current Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld said that in the past, police decided they could buy drugs from everyone and put everyone in jail. Judges came to work with addicts lined up around the corners and concluded that the cops had no real plan other than mass arrests. Their dockets were overloaded with petty criminals while the big-time suppliers roamed free. Bealefeld said he’s trying to turn that around.