A Problem-Oriented War on Drugs

  • Hans Toch
  • J. Douglas Grant


The introduction to a recent report (Police Executive Research Forum, 1989b) includes the documented claim that “for tackling drug problems, the problem-oriented approach is an idea whose time has come” (p. 2). The report concludes by noting that “of greatest importance is the development of a thought process for police that fosters both creative and collaborative solutions to specific problems. This development stands in stark contrast to the application of global measures for all drug problems” (p. 18).


Drug Trafficking Drug Problem Drug Dealer Citizen Group Drug Offender 
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  1. 1.
    Our peer review panel model did not work in an experiment in Kansas City, where officers were enthusiastic about the group process but less sanguine about the desirability of behavior change in panel subjects. When one transplants an intervention from one setting to another, one must introduce variations to accommodate differences in force fields. The best way to do this is through local participation in the design of the intervention.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Police involvement with citizen groups not only protects against vigilante activities but suggests that they are unlikely to occur. Citizens take the law into their hands when they are concerned about crime but feel that the police are either unconcerned or unable to help them. Vigilante movements are therefore expressions of contempt for, and disappointment in, the police and the criminal justice system. (The greatest danger arises where police concur with this judgment as it applies to the rest of the system.) Vigilantism is also curbed because it reliably involves activities that break laws that the police are enjoined to enforce. This creates an antagonistic relationship between overenthusiastic citizens and officers, unless the officers become vigilantes themselves.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Toch
    • 1
  • J. Douglas Grant
    • 2
  1. 1.State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Social Action Research CenterNicasioUSA

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