As drug sales move underground and away from more traditional neighborhood level transactions, DC officers are turning their focus to online sales and local nightlife hotspots.
According to an article in the Washington Times, this shift away from low level users to narcotics suppliers has prompted police to consolidate units that investigate drug and violent crimes at the neighborhood level.
“Things aren’t as much neighborhood-based as they used to be,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said. “Now we are seeing the networks for the drugs that are out there. Certain drugs are networked for nightlife areas like MDMA and Molly.”
The chief is referring to the term used to describe a refined form of Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, which can drive up body temperature and cause liver, kidney or heart failure.
On Monday, Chief Lanier and Mayor Muriel Bowser also laid out plans to target businesses that sell synthetic marijuana, after a rash of overdoses that were serious but not life-threatening. The Mayor discussed emergency legislation that would give Chief Lanier the ability to temporarily close down shops that sell it for 96 hours and issue fines of $10,000 per violation.
While there are already other government agencies that have the authority to go after businesses that illegally sell synthetic marijuana, the process to revoke a license can take a considerable amount of time.
As seen with this new legislation proposed by the Mayor, officials were looking for a quicker way to penalize problematic store owners.
Not everyone is a believer in the Chief’s plan to consolidate units, however. Delroy Burton, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the centralization of the units leaves the commanders in charge of neighborhoods with fewer resources.
Burton says he hopes the plan will be successful in taking down major narcotics networks, but wonders whether it will compromise neighborhood-level security in the process, according to the Times piece.