Essay On Public Administration

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Public Administration

Controlling illicit drug use has been a persistent policy in the United States, where law enforcement has been the primary orientation in the so- called "war on drugs." The relationship that exists between drug enforcement and crimes has been controversial. Drug enforcement can lead to a disruption of drug markets, leading to an increase in violent crime as drug dealers fight over market share and turf. There are agencies that have been formed all over the world to fight against the usage of illicit drugs in their jurisdiction, for instance, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the United States.

These agencies have been able to record successes in the war on drugs. They have been able to capture and prosecute some of the drug barons. They have also been able to reduce the dealing of drugs in their areas of jurisdiction. Due to their interventions, there are fewer people who consume these drugs as they have managed to keep their areas of jurisdiction relatively drug-free. The population has also been discouraged from consuming these illicit drugs. This raising of public awareness of the usage of these drugs significantly reduces the drug usage by the population.

These agencies usually need funds to be able to effectively carry out their activities. These funds are usually sourced from their respective governments. However, they have to share these funds with other public safety programs since the funding is limited. Often, they have to operate with little funds that may not be able to meet their budget. This means that they have to cut back on some of their activities. As there is reduced activity by the drug enforcement agencies, drug-related activities increase in the streets. The increase in drug-related activities will surely have an effect on the crime rate in these areas. This research will focus on the impact on crime when resources have been shifted from illicit drug reinforcement to other public safety priorities. This issue is important as there are budget cuts that are usually done by departments such as illicit drug enforcement and the resources channeled to other areas. This research will query whether this will ultimately have an effect on the crime rate.

Literature Review

In the United States of America, the organization that handles drug enforcement is the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a law enforcing agency dealing with drugs in the Department of Justice of the United States. The DEA is assigned the task of combating drug smuggling and use within the country of the United States. It seeks to enforce the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. It is also responsible for conduction of United States drug investigations that are done abroad.

The illegal drug market in the US attracts a lot of traffickers of drugs. There is a wide variety of drug related crimes that are committed within the US and across the borders of the US. According to the Customs service of the United States, in the middle of voluminous trade within the United States of America, there are traffickers of drugs that hide shipment that has controlled substances such as heroin, cocaine, MDMA, marijuana and methamphetamine for distribution and sale in the neighborhoods of the United States. Thus, enforcement agencies fighting the distribution and use of these narcotics play a very important role in stopping illegal activities related to the use of drugs.

One of the main goals of the DEA is the enforcement of controlled substance regulations and laws in the United States. Also, the DEA is in charge of supporting and recommending non-enforcement programs whose objective is to reduce the availability of the drugs on the domestic as well as international markets. To be able to do this, the DEA has to take up some responsibilities. The major responsibilities of the DEA include the collection, propagation and analysis of strategic as well as operational information on drug intelligence by the maintenance of a national drug intelligence program. The local, state, federal and foreign officials also aid the DEA in the management of the intelligence program.

The DEA is also involved in seizing and forfeiting of assets that are derived from, are traceable to, or are intended to be used for trafficking of illicit drugs. The DEA is also involved in enforcing the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act that relate to the manufacturing, distributing and supplying of the controlled substances that are produced legally. It investigates and prepares for prosecution the people who violate the laws concerning the controlled substances at the national and international levels. It investigates and prepares for prosecution criminal drug gangs that spread violence within the communities. It also enforces and enhances the mutual drug enforcement efforts as it cooperates and coordinates with the state, federal, local law enforcement officials.

The DEA also initiates efforts to aid in the reduction of the availability of illicit drugs in the United States market as it resorts to methods that are non-enforcement such as eradication of crops, substitution of crops, and foreign officials training. Such practices are done with the cooperation of state, federal as well as local agencies and foreign governments.

Under the policy guidance of the U.S ambassadors and the Secretary of state, the DEA is the one that is in charge of all the initiatives that are associated with counterparts in foreign countries that deal with enforcement of drug laws. In association with the Interpol, the United Nations as well as other organizations in the enforcement of international drug control programs.

Crime is among the primary concerns of communities all over the world, and the illegal drug business has been identified as a key cause of these crimes, particularly in the urban areas. While disorder has traditionally been seen as resulting from the effects of the drugs on the users themselves, for instance, violence that stems from psychosis that has been drug induced, violence has increasingly been understood as a means through which the groups and individuals gain market share of the lucrative illicit drug trade.

In a variety of settings, the cartels and gangs that get their basic financing from the sale of illicit drugs have been implicated in a big proportion of homicides that happen. For example, studies of gangs of drugs in Chicago have shown that as much as twenty-five percent of gang activity involves homicide and violent assault. In Los Angeles, gang-related homicides accounted for forty-three percent of the 1,365 homicides that happened between the years of 1994 and 1995.

In some cases, the response to the illicit trade of the drugs may have been a contribution to the increasing militarization of both law enforcement and criminal elements which resulted in an increase in drug-related crimes. In the wake of the rise in the drug-related violence, governments all over the world have increased efforts to reduce this phenomenon through applying interventions whose objective is to address the use of drug use and supply. Generally, this approach involves the increase in the allocation of resources to policing efforts. Also, governments prioritize the punishments of users of drugs and pursue drug dealers through interventions in law enforcement. Thus, reduction of the resources that are allocated to illicit drug enforcement will undoubtedly have an impact on the crime rates. With the decrease in resources at their disposal, drug enforcement agencies will not be adequately able to fight drug activities in their areas of jurisdiction. Thus, there will be more drug-related activities that will have an impact on the crime rates in these areas due to increased utilization of illicit drugs.

Data Collection Methods

This review involved conventional systematic searching, data extraction, and synthesis methods. Specifically, there was a comprehensive search of the literature by the use of electronic databases (PubMed, Academic Search Complete, EMBASE, Web of Science, PAIS and Lexis- Nexis), the internet (Google, Google Scholar) and article reference lists. Search terms included crime, illicit drug enforcement, enforcement, gangs, drug crime, drug gangs and gangs. The terms were searched as keywords and mapped to subject headings that were data specific or controlled vocabulary terms when available. Each database was searched for English-language articles from its start to its most recent update.

Studies that were published in peer-reviewed journals, publications from nongovernmental organizations and governments and abstracts from international conferences that reported on the link between illicit drug enforcement and crime rate were all eligible to be incorporated in the systematic review. Editorials, studies of police violence and advocacy articles were excluded. Also excluded were studies that focused on violence that is associated with military action against insurgencies that had been financed through the trade of drugs.

Two research assistants conducted data extraction independent of each other, in duplicate, using techniques that are standardized. Data abstractors collected information about the design of the study, the size of the sample, the methods of effective measurement and the outcomes (i.e. crime rate). The data was entered into an electronic database so that there were duplicate entries that existed for each study. When the duplicate entries didn't match, there was discussion to reach a consensus.

The primary outcome expected for this review was the identification of the association between illicit drug enforcement and crime rate. Given that the literature on drug law is heterogeneous, in some instances proxy measures were utilized for both drug law enforcement (for instance, number of drug arrests, police officers) and crime rate (e.g. number of shootings, homicides)
In ensuring scientific rigor, the Preferred Reporting of Systematic Reviews and Meta- analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were utilized for systematic analysis of data. These guidelines are recognized all over the world as the gold standard in the transparent reporting of the systematic evaluations of scientific research questions. Since the studies included in the systematic review varied extensively concerning methods employed and outcomes received, the findings of the study were summarized on a basis of per – study, while statistical data were entered into a standardized form. In reporting of the results of individual studies, the values reported and measures of association were cited.


In the primary search, 306 potential articles were identified to be included in the review. Out of these 43 (14.1%) were excluded as they did not present new data, for instance, editorials. As a result of this, 263 (86.0%) articles were retrieved for a detailed examination. This was after the initial searching of abstracts and keywords. Of these, 93.4% were found not to be relevant to the review at hand due to the following reasons: 24% were excluded due to lack of reporting of crimes related to illicit drug enforcement, 68% were excluded due to lack of an explicit mention of crime or violence in the analysis, and 2% were excluded since they reported on violence by the police rather than violence that is associated with illicit drug reinforcement. At the very end, 6% of the studies were eligible to be included in the systematic review.

Of the 15 studies that were seen to be relevant to the systematic review, there included 13 studies from North America and two studies from Australia. Further, 13 of those studies used quantitative study designs while two of them used qualitative study methods. One study used a combined method (i.e. quantitative and qualitative techniques) design. Of the 13 studies that employed quantitative techniques, 11 (85%) conducted regression analyses of real-world data, and 2 (15%) presented theoretical patterns of drug market dynamics.

The eleven studies that did longitudinal analyses of data that is real world included violent crime, violence, or homicide as a primary independent variable of interest to the researcher, and measures of illicit drug enforcement as the dependent variable of interest to the researcher. These studies were able to use a variety of proxy variables to quantify drug law enforcement, for instance, police expenditure, drug arrests as a proportion of total arrests, drug seizure rates and the number of police officers. In nine of the studies that used regression analysis of longitudinal data, there was a significant positive association that was observed between drug law enforcement decreases and increasing levels of crime. There was only one study that showed no significant association between drug law enforcement and crime rate. The two theoretical models of dynamics in the drug market, which used hypothetical data to model the potential impact of law enforcement reached different conclusions: one of them concluded that decrease in drug law enforcement would lead to a decrease in the crime rate while the other concluded that decrease in the drug law enforcement would result in an increase in the crime rate.
The two qualitative pieces of research included in this systematic survey both reported on health inflictions among illegal drug users in the open air illegal drug market that is located in Sydney in Australia. In these studies, the authors noted that, as dealers tended to exit the illicit drug market, those ready to work in a high-risk environment entered, and street dealing thereby became more volatile. Also, the authors saw that the increased volatility linked with street dealing resulted in a higher number of violent conflicts, which have contributed to an increase in murders and nonfatal shootings among individuals involved in the illicit drug trade.


In this systematic review, all the available studies that evaluated the association between drug law enforcement and crime rate were reviewed. Though they are few, they employed a diverse number of methodologies that included longitudinal analyses that involved up to five years of prospective follow-up, qualitative analyses, multilevel regression analyses and predictive mathematical models. The present systematic review shows that a reduction in drug law enforcement is likely to lead to an increase in crime rates. This is an expected outcome. The association between decreased drug law enforcement funding and the rise in crime rates can be due to various factors. Research has shown that removing some of the law enforcement officers from the field will enable the drug dealers to operate freely, thus selling more drugs to the people. Once the people have the drugs, they will consume them, and this is what ultimately leads to them participating in crimes due to the influence of the drugs.
While not a central concern of this research, previous pieces of research have concluded that, besides increased crime rates, less illicit drug reinforcement has led to the production of other several unintended consequences. One of the key concerns that drives the introduction of new players in the illicit drug market is the existence of a big illicit market that has come about due to less prohibition. The drug cartels are then able to sell their goods freely. They operate outside the control of the government, fuelling crime, violence and corruption in a lot of urban communities. Further, these profits that these cartels get have led to the destabilization of many countries, such as Mexico, Columbia, and Afghanistan, and have been a major contributor to the instability that is experienced in West Africa. In North America, the profits that emanate from the trade in marijuana constitute a main source of potential instability and corruption in these areas. In terms of additional unintended consequences, in the United States, mandatory minimum sentencing policies that apply to drug offenders have resulted in a big growth in the population in the prisons, placing an enormous burden on the taxpayer in the process.
The incarceration of drug offenders in the United States has generated substantial disparities in terms of the race. For example, one in nine African – American males between the ages of 20 and 34 is detained on any given day in the US. While the unintended result of increased drug-related crimes might be acceptable to the general public under the situation whereby drug law enforcement substantially reduces the flow of drugs that are illegal, earlier research suggests that efforts in law enforcement by the authorities haven't been able to achieve a meaningful reduction in drug supply and use where demand remains high.

In the United States of America, illegal drugs have become cheaper, and drug purity has increased, despite the annual federal drug law enforcement budgets of about US $15 Billion and higher since the 1990s. Reduction of the efforts in drug law enforcement will surely lead to an increase in the drug-related activities. In Russia, notwithstanding a strong emphasis on drug law enforcement, there is evidence that suggests that the use and sale of illicit drugs is still widespread. Recent estimates by the United Nations show that more than 1.6 million Russians use illicit opiates each year, though experts say that the correct figure could be as high as five million.


Based on the accessible English language scientific evidence, the results of this systematic review suggest that decrease in the resources for illicit drug enforcement will lead to a weakened drug enforcement campaign that will ultimately lead to sale and use of more drugs in the communities. Due to the increased drug usage, there will be an increase in the rate of crimes as more and more people will be under the influence of these drugs. If the drug enforcement agencies are given enough money, they can fight the usage of drugs in their jurisdictions. However, if the money is given to other public safety priorities, they become weak and are not able to fully exercise their mandate.

This study suggests that one of the ways to reduce crime in the streets is to equip fully the drug enforcement agencies. They should have all the resources that they require at their disposal. Also, the staff should be adequately compensated and motivated so as to give their best in what they do. By so doing, it will be probable to get illicit drugs off the streets.


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Healey, Justin. 2009. Drugs and law enforcement. Thirroul: Spinney Press.
Spooner, Catherine, Wayne Hall, Mark Mcpherson. 2004. The role of police in preventing and minimising illicit drug use and its harm. Payneham: Australasian Centre for Policing Research.
States, United. 1993. Illicit drug trafficking and use in the United States: current and future trends. Washington, D.C.: Drug Enforcement Administration, Intelligence Division.
United States, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 2008. Money laundering and the illicit drug trade. Washington, D.C.: Strategic Intelligence Section, Drug Enforcement Administration.
Wales, New South. 2002. NSW illicit drug law enforcement: performance indicators. Sydney: New South Wales Police.