Smoke From DPD

It ain't because they're electing a pope

Nobody at the top gets fake drugs yet. You can tell by the way they keep trying to shuffle the deck chairs. Take the attempts by the interim Dallas police chief to reorganize his command staff: He doesn't get that the only "reorganization" good enough for the city's fake-drugs scandal will be a couple of dozen bloody heads on pikes out in front of the cop shop.

The all-new Decapitated Division.

"Hey, whatever happened to old Deputy Chief So-and-So?"

"Oh, they switched him over to Decapitated."

Reorganize? Get real. Somebody connected with the Dallas Police Department planted huge amounts of fake cocaine on innocent victims and ruined dozens of lives--people sent to prison, people deported, people who lost their businesses, people divorced by their spouses. This was a total devastation of the lives of innocent people by some bastard or group of bastards who were either wearing the badge or working with people who wore the badge.

What's called for is not a staff reorganization.

Two members of the top police command staff have gone to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to file complaints against interim Chief Randy Hampton, apparently having to do with new job assignments they either didn't get, did get, were afraid they might get or hoped to get.

Meanwhile a mushroom cloud of paranoia boils out of police headquarters every day over Hampton's actions. Apparently he has decided, even though he is only an interim chief and a candidate for the full-time post, to move a bunch of top people around. I have heard every possible wacky permutation of what it all means. The one that makes the most sense is what I hear from sound heads outside the department: that Hampton just wants to look tough and bright so he'll get the full-time job.

Ain't workin'!

Every time Hampton breathes on somebody, that person runs for a lawyer. Maybe for good reason. Why doesn't Hampton get that the wheel of justice is grinding near and now is not the time for tiddlywinks?

The most intense paranoia is over who will wind up in charge of narcotics--I guess because nobody wants a dead dog. There is a general awareness in the department that the two ongoing independent investigations of fake drugs will turn up a fine mess there--a complete absence of control over money, evidence, informants and cops. And this history goes way back. We all forget that nobody ever figured out who stole $50,000 in buy money from the narcotics division in 1996 under former Police Chief Ben Click.

By the way, I finally got page four. Several weeks ago I wrote about all the trouble I was having getting the police department to cough up a management audit of the Dallas narcotics division carried out recently by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. When I finally got the audit from City Attorney Madeleine Johnson, it was mysteriously missing page four.

So Johnson got page four for me last week. (Johnson, by the way, seems to be taking a very tough straight-up line on fake drugs and must not intend to cover up anything for anybody.) As I had expected, page four dealt with the need for massive reform of the way the narcotics division accounts for money, evidence, everything.

In fact, there's a decent argument that narcotics was already drifting out of control before former Chief Terrell Bolton took office, probably at least since 1993 when former Chief William Rathburn left Dallas to head up security for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. I talked about it recently with a senior police official not in Dallas but familiar with the Rathburn regime. I'm not sure why he knows so much, but he does. He was willing to speak only if I didn't identify him, because he didn't want his name mixed up with fake drugs.

His argument was that fake drugs could have started under anybody, but it would have been nipped in the bud immediately by anybody who had any idea how the narcotics division in Dallas was supposed to work.

Under Rathburn in the early 1990s, the Dallas narcotics division was reorganized to reflect new thinking in international police circles. The game theory here was that knocking down major dealers can actually make drug-related crime worse, if you don't do anything about users. By concentrating on big dealers, you drive down supply without changing demand. So what happens? Prices go up. Druggies have to steal more stuff. The trick is to drive down demand in tandem with supply by going after the druggies, too.

The "street-level" squads involved in the fake-drugs scandal were put in place by Rathburn to go after users and very small dealers. They were the demand side of the equation.

If anybody in charge of narcotics...if anybody in charge of the police department...if anybody in charge at City Hall had even known what the street squads were for, fake drugs would never have happened. My source said: "The focus of the street narcotics units was and should be criminal drug users and small-dealers.

"So red flags should have gone up all over the place when they were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to informants in the street narcotics unit."

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