Prosecutor Counters Ex-Seattle Chief On Drug Legalization


Fomer Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper thinks the world would be a better place if drugs were legal, says Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur. In an Oct. 16 Los Angeles Times op-ed piece titled, “Let Those Dopers Be,” Stamper called for the legalization of “not just pot, but all drugs,” including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and LSD. Doing so, he said, “Would drive unscrupulous dealers out of business overnight.” It also would ease prison costs, since nonviolent drug offenders would be freed. “We’re making more arrests for drug offenses than for murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault combined,” Stamper wrote. “Feel safer?”

Alcohol and drug use is at the start of many crimes. We’ve legalized alcohol, but that didn’t stop drunken drivers from killing 16,694 people in 2004. Stamper’s piece has energized his ongoing tour for his book, “Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of Policing.” Fox News and MSNBC had him on. CNN asked him to talk about the economic effects of drug decriminalization. Dan Satterberg of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office thinks Stamper is way off. “What he’s proposing is a social experiment from which there would be no return,” he said. “You’d have a whole lot more people using a whole lot more drugs. And what’s the message you send to kids? ‘Don’t do drugs, but go here if you want to buy them.’ ” Washington State gives some $8.5 million annually – previously earmarked for prison construction – to pay for treatment for people facing county drug charges. If they stay clean for six months, their cases are dismissed. As an added bonus, they’re no longer using. “Criminal justice is when you have the best chance to help them out,” Satterberg said.


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