We live in a world that often believes that bigger is better – more profit and income – larger homes and communities. That list is BIG and it seems to be growing all the time.
This past week I found myself working in two different worlds. There was a stark contrast between them. Stepping into the corporate world where companies are constantly striving to increase their profit margins while still remaining somewhat socially conscious is one I’m all too familiar with. I’ve chosen my clients carefully over the years and will continue to align myself with those organizations that truly care, connect and cooperate with those they ultimately serve.
The small community of Rocky Mountain House provided the contrast to the corporate world. It is located in the west country, about 45 minutes from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. It’s a beautiful place and I lived there from 1995 – 2003 working in a role that often found me side by side with RCMP members and other law enforcement officers with the County of Clearwater. I was asked to return to the community and speak to the issue of rising crime rates, fear and safety. I had been looking forward to this for weeks and was thrilled to be introduced by Dan Lyon, a long serving member of the RCMP (who is now retired). Dan and I had worked closely while I lived and worked in Rocky and he was instrumental in supporting much of my work around community-based crime prevention. There have been many many more police officers I’ve come to know and work with since that time.
As this story began to unfold in my mind I recognized that although I had been presenting to a very small community – the real issues needing to be addressed are enormous. I had my corporate sponsor Peavey Industries onboard and the local RCMP, including Clearwater County officers. Everyone understands that drugs drive our crime rates or at least most crime, right? Dan and I had just discussed this a week prior to my visit and we agreed.
The challenges and controversy around drugs is widespread for certain and my position has continued to shift over the years. Today, I’m inclined to believe that the War on Drugs has failed miserably and that billions of dollars have been wasted. My argument is that these funds should have gone into prevention. More and more people support this idea, including many police officers. The popular television series The Wire captured this idea brilliantly in a scene – this drug thing, this ain’t police work.
We continue to talk up evidence-based research and best practices knowing that there are better ways of going about things and preventing crime, yet the War on Drugs continues year after year. Let’s begin to really explore this and seek out a realistic solution, an antidote. Let’s consider listening to the research and some deeply human storytelling. Let’s start with Johann Hari and his book titled, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.
Stay tuned for Part II later this week