If drugs were legal, if officers weren’t routinely confronted by thousands, ten of thousands, and hundreds of thousands in black market profits (in cash no less), John McAllister would still be a police officer. Instead, the former head of the Narcotics Unit of Mesquite PD is facing a federal charge for allegedly stealing what he thought was drug dealer cash in an FBI sting. The same Prohibition 2 that gave McAllister a livelihood, also gave him the opportunity to become a criminal himself.
Why did Officer McAllister start pocketing cash from drug busts? The same reason drug dealers go into the business. Assuming as economist do, that we are self interested rational actors, humans make the decision to commit or not commit an offense by weighing the benefits of crime against the probability of apprehension, and the possible punishment if convicted. Factor in other existing opportunities and a person’s moral restraint/self control, and if the numbers work out, a crime is born.
Officer McAllister’s moral compass wasn’t enough to keep him from taxing drug dealers for his own benefit. And why not? The government steals (forfeits) from users and retailers all the time. Officer McAllister just forfeited some cash for his own personal use instead of sending it down the bureaucratic black hole.
McAllister was skimming the skim, not unlike the count room employees in Casino. Once you give the government the license to steal private property, it’s not a huge stretch before the employees of said government feel entitled to take a little as well.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t see cops robbing liquor stores or taking protection money from Pfizer. If you choose Prohibition 2, you are signing up to support police corruption. You can’t be for one, and against the other.
Drug war police corruption is so rampant that StopTheDrugWar.org carries a weekly update to help you keep score.
McAllister is just the tip of the iceberg. Like drug users and dealers, most dirty cops are never caught. Remember the second half of the “should I commit this crime?” equation, the probability of apprehension. It’s comically low for dirty cops.
First, we don’t spend much time looking for them. The feds had to bust this Mesquite PD officer because Mesquite PD wasn’t going to investigate one of their own. Second, cops never snitch on cops, even crooked ones. Finally, drug dealers and users who are robbed by police are never taken seriously.