Former Narcotics head Larry Smith says Bermuda's burgeoning drug crime can be blamed on a switch to soft Policing.
And he said any move to legalize drugs to stem Bermuda's crime wave would merely bankroll rich dealers while turning more users into virtual zombies. Violent crime rose 44.5 percent from 2000 to 2007 and Mr. Smith agreed that drugs were behind that surge.
But Mr. Smith, who headed the Police Narcotics squad from 1999 to 2006, blamed the rise on a change in Policing tactics, away from enforcement.
He said officers didn't understand community policing but the policy had persisted, leading to Police losing both the battle on the streets and the confidence of the public.
He told /The Royal Gazette/: "Of course drugs have played an integral part in this crime wave, especially violent crime."
And he suggested the weakened economy, coupled with job losses, has caused some previously honest, upstanding citizens to turn to crime in order to survive financial uncertainly. "Lastly, there are those that are just plain rotten to the core and crime is their way of life," he said.
Official figures show that Police manpower and spending has increased by a third in the last decade. Asked if Government was ever likely to substantially reduce the amount of drug activity and related crime in Bermuda given the resources already diverted to the problem, Mr. Smith said it was not about numbers.
"If we are suggesting that drugs are the core problem to Bermuda's increase in crime, why reduce the division that is primarily responsible for enforcing drug laws? It's absolutely absurd."
Bermuda does not produce drugs, other than a small proportion of cannabis, argued Mr. Smith. "Therefore it's safe to assume that all drugs are imported. So why neglect tough border enforcement?
"In the past, it was difficult to get drugs and guns past Customs and the Narcotics division. So therein lies the problem, the relaxation of border enforcement. It's like open season."
Mr. Smith said Bermuda has 'wannabe gangsters' who are getting away with anti-social behaviour because the Police are no longer aggressive enough.
And he questioned whether money spent on addicts was worth it. "My philosophy is, you got yourself in the mess: get yourself out. That may seem harsh, but that's the way I was raised. Again, sorry, but you reap what you sow.
"Government has already wasted too much money on these infidels. Utilize the money on those less fortunate, not on persons who have chosen that lifestyle."
He said those leading the charge for decriminalizing cannabis needed to consider the impact it will have on health insurance.
"I'm gonna get in trouble with this comment, but legalizing marijuana comes from a capitalist motivation. Someone in high authority is going to walk away filthy rich and Bermuda is going to have a whole lot of sick folk walking around like zombies.
"Health care will hit the ceiling and innocent people will be taxed to care for the bad choice of legislating this evil."
He said if drugs were made legal Bermuda would get totally out of control.
"You'll even have kids walking around using drugs. Don't forget, the use of drugs has varying behavioural patterns and some are not so pleasant. You legalize to your own peril.
"Legalizing drugs is the selfish motive of a select few."
September 30, 2009
The Royal Gazette