Perspectives on Milwaukee’s Drug Issue

Recently, the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has seen a number of busts for large drug cases. First, on Wednesday, September 22nd, 14 people were arrested at different locations around the city, in connection with a single drug conspiracy. A week later, 12 more people were arrested. Along with the drug busts, police seized large amounts of heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, and money. The busts were a result of cooperation between federal, state, and city authorities, as part of a larger attempt to stop the drug problems that have been growing across most of the Midwest.

According to information on the website of criminal defense lawyers Kohler, Hart, and Powell, drug operations such as this are often very massive undertakings on the part of the law enforcement. They can involve a wide variety of techniques, such as wiretapping, multi-week surveillance, confidential informants, thousands of working hours of investigation. And it never seems to be a process that ends. As soon as police manage to track down one group of dealers, it seems that another one sprouts up to take their place. It’s nearly impossible for law enforcement officials to control all of the drug traffic within a city as large as Milwaukee, especially with the limited resources at their disposal.

According to one doctor who specializes in treating addiction, so far the increased effort by law enforcement hasn’t shown many results. Even when the police make large arrests, the supply of drugs in the city is barely affected. When it does go down, there is quickly some other supplier to take its place. And it hasn’t been doing much good for the addicts either, who always seem able to find new sources for their drug habits. It’s a frustrating question. If gangs and drugs are devastating the community, but increased police enforcement and crackdowns on drugs haven’t solved the issue, what can be done?

There are several different perspectives on the issue. Some people think that anti-drug problems need to sharpen their focus to helping addicts, rather than simply arresting drug users and dealers. By treating drug addiction more like an illness than a crime, they can encourage people who need it to get help and reduce the suffering that comes from drug use. Some people also feel that the social conditions leading to drug use need to be addressed. Factors like poverty, low education, and other social factors can all contribute to drug use and addiction. By attempting to solve those problems and build stronger communities, some people feel that the problem will naturally resolve.

Still, others feel like drug use shouldn’t be a crime at all, and the focus on punishment and criminalization is only making something into a much larger than it needs to be. If the stigma around drug use was removed, and focus was moved to education about them and regulating their use, many problems with drugs could be resolved. It’s difficult to say who, if anyone is right. These are complex social issues that likely don’t have any fully correct answer. But hopefully, we’ll find one that helps those who need it most.