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Drugs and Crime Across America: Police Chiefs Speak Out

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2004
22 pages
This report presents findings from a 2004 national survey of more than 300 police chiefs’ attitudes towards drug enforcement and how these attitudes have changed since a similar survey in 1996.
Major findings from a survey of police chiefs on the Nation’s drug problem include: (1) drug abuse continues to be the top law enforcement problem and it has increased in seriousness since 1996; (2) the majority of police chiefs (63 percent) rate drug abuse as an extremely or quite serious problem in their communities, while only a small minority of chiefs describe the threat of terrorism (17 percent) and violent crime (18 percent) in those terms; (3) police chiefs (67 percent) believe overwhelmingly that law enforcement has been unsuccessful in reducing the drug problem; (4) police chiefs call for major changes in the way that law enforcement deals with the drug problem; and (5) three out of four chiefs (74 percent) believe that the resource gap in dealing with drugs is far greater than the resource gap in dealing with any other crime problems they confront, including the threat of terrorism. In the view of America’s police chiefs, the drug problem facing our communities is greater today than it was in the mid-1990s. Most police chiefs are calling for major reform in the Nation’s approach to drug abuse and drug crime. In 2004, Peter D. Hart Research Associates conducted a national telephone survey among 300 police chiefs. The sample represents a cross section of police departments according to population. Interviews were conducted with 60 police chiefs in large cities, 88 in medium communities, and 152 in small towns. Figures and survey instrument