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LAPD Drug Buys in the Schools

March 08, 1987

The letter (Feb. 27), "LAPD Drug Buys in the Schools," by two American Civil Liberties Union staff attorneys must be refuted.

In summary, the ACLU attorneys argue that the school-buy program is a conspiracy of dishonest relationships established by undercover officers to entrap only innocent students into providing them small amounts of marijuana as gestures of friendship because real drug sellers are "too sophisticated" to sell to an undercover officer. That same ACLU argument was rejected by the courts years ago.

As recognized by the court, the facts are due in significant measure to the school-buy program's success over the last 13 years, innocent youngsters can now go to school as students without having to run a gauntlet of drug pushers on the campus, in the school's corridors and, as they once did, even in the classrooms. Most drug transactions are now completed off-campus after purchase agreements have been reached on-campus.

As for the "too sophisticated" drug pushers, during the same most recent school-buy operation, undercover officers infiltrated a network of peddlers operated by a previously convicted peddler who used seven juveniles as his cocaine (mostly crack) salespersons.

In purchases and searches, police officers obtained more than 94 grams of cocaine and $45,000 in cash from the suspect who was subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury and is facing up to 15 years in federal prison. Transactions the ACLU attorneys labeled as, "small amounts of marijuana as a favor for a friend" included cocaine valued at $31,170, $20 worth of LSD and $33 worth of PCP; not to mention the $10,722 worth of "friendly" marijuana gifts. Thirty-five of those "friendly" pushers were adults.

No one does our young people a favor by confusing students with dope peddlers or academic institutions with narcotic sanctuaries. In my view, those ACLU attorneys have refined such confusion to a pseudo-science.

I have discussed only one school-buy operation, the most recent one. It was very typical of the many others, with one exception: an undercover officer established a prohibited relationship with a 17-year-old student. That was not an intrinsic fundamental program flaw as submitted by the ACLU attorneys. Rather, it was a singular act of misconduct that resulted in the officer being fired.

DARYL F. GATES

Chief of Police

Los Angeles

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