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A letter to the American public: Forget about the war on drugs, drugs are waging war on us

While some headway has been made recently with a decline in overdose deaths, our “allies” in our efforts have become part of the problem


A drug syringe found behind a vacant property in northeast Albuquerque, N.M., is placed into a container on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, as crews attempt to clear the lot of needles and other heroin paraphernalia.

AP Photo/Mary Hudetz

In 1971, President Nixon declared a “War on Drugs.” I became a participant as a police officer on January 1, 1974.

I fought the good fight for 33 years, but looking back at the countless drug searches, seizures and arrests, I don’t know if we have ever waged a “war on drugs,” but drugs are definitely waging war on us.

In 2017 alone, 70,237 Americans died of drug-related overdoses. This eclipses, in one year, the 58,220 total American deaths during the entire Vietnam War. Drugs are waging war on us!

Some Good News

Some headway has been made recently as we are beginning to see flat or declining drug overdose numbers. Factors contributing to this positive development include:

Bravo! Keep up the good work!

Questions from a Retired Officer

I am observing, however, that some “allies” in our efforts seem to have become part of the problem instead of the solution. Here are a few questions I have for these “allies.”

To the people who believe police officers pursue a person because of their color rather than their criminality, I ask: What if you are wrong and police officers are truly motivated by a sincere desire to keep you and your children safe?

Believe it or not, the vast majority of police officers you paint with your wide brush pursue criminality, not color.

If you do not believe me, listen to the testimonies of people who have worked hard and succeeded in getting out of troubled areas describe what a challenge it was to survive in an environment dominated by drugs and gangs.

We will never solve the problem of illegal drugs and other criminality by giving criminals a pass while blaming the police and the courts for putting people in prison who have earned the price of admission by poisoning our children and committing many, many, many crimes.

To healthcare professionals, I ask: If drug addiction is a disease, why are you not clamoring for drug dealers to be quarantined indefinitely?

Medical experts have declared drug addiction to be a disease. Therefore, since the numbers bear out that this “disease” is more deadly than modern warfare, it follows that drug dealers, who are the carriers of this disease, should be quarantined from society immediately and indefinitely.

However, if you examine bonding and sentencing policies nationwide, you will see that painstaking efforts are made to release drug dealers quickly and often back into our communities after they are arrested and even after conviction. Signature bonds, ankle bracelets and urine tests don’t prevent drug dealers from exposing young children to the potentially fatal “disease” of addiction.

To legislators, I ask: If drug addiction is a disease, why are there so few medical treatment centers available to treat an affliction that kills so many?

Police officers can attest to the fact that not only in the case of drug addicts but also the mentally ill, it is difficult to get a bed in a treatment facility for long-term treatment even when the afflicted are pleading for care. As it stands, the only “treatment facility” that makes room for them upon request by the police are jails. Legislators must provide for the construction of many more treatment facilities for addicts and the mentally ill.

Why in the midst of a drug abuse epidemic are you rushing to legalize marijuana?

It is puzzling that instead of comprehensively trying to solve a massive drug abuse problem we have in this nation, legislators opt instead to spend their time on efforts to legalize marijuana. These efforts continue unabated even as we have children and adults dying horrible deaths after vaping products containing THC.

Why do you continue to facilitate needle giveaway programs when they endanger communities?

This effort to facilitate addicts and keep them safe has clearly backfired and endangers the public. In many small towns and big cities, park and recreation employees carry around needle collection kits so that our children are not injured by discarded “free needles” while sliding off a slide or into second base.

To prosecutors, judges and mayors, I ask: Why are some of you choosing to serve as advocates to lawbreakers rather than your constituents?

Keeping a community safe within the law should be the goal of everyone in service to their community. Too many prosecutors, judges and mayors have become criminal advocates at the expense of the good citizens they serve. You have mayors of sanctuary cities ordering drug dealers and other criminals to not be turned over to federal authorities upon request, allowing the release of these criminals, which enables them to commit more crimes. With that in mind, here is one more serious question: Where does a law-abiding citizen find sanctuary in a sanctuary city?

Finally, here is a question for everyone to ponder: How can we help children make the right choice when that moment comes?

“Experts” say “Just say no” doesn’t work. However, the moment comes in every child’s life, when it is their turn to decide to either use illegal drugs or “just say no!”

Preparing kids for that moment is our best chance of keeping them from the sinister grip of drugs. We must discuss and decide how we can redouble our efforts through education, personal example, enforcement, treatment and other options not yet thought of, to convince every child that when their moment to decide comes it’s not, “Just say no,” it’s, “Must say no!”


Pondering these questions reminded me of a long-ago shift when I had someone before me who could have given me some insight into solving this problem. As I looked down upon the young overdose victim looking back at me like a discarded mannequin wearing that eyes-wide-open stare, I asked, “How could this have been prevented?”

Sadly the question was asked too late for the answer was...silence.

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. Additional awards Lt. Marcou received were 15 departmental citations (his department’s highest award), two Chief’s Superior Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Medal for his response to an active shooter. He is a co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,” which is now available. His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest non-fiction offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.