Drug War

Lessons in Precision of Language When Dealing with Public Officials, Or, "Drug Task Force? What Drug Task Force"?

|

Lessons in using very precise language when dealing with government officials and sunshine laws, via the Show-MeCannabis web site out of St. Louis, Missouri.

The story, as related by Aaron Malin:

The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) published a map and listing of the different drug task forces on their website. One of them is listed as the 'St. Louis Metro DTF' (law enforcement uses 'DTF' regularly in emails and official documents….).

I was interested in the activities of this task force, so I filed a Sunshine Law Request with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD).

Police attorney Mark Lawson denied in a series of emails, reproduced at the link, that any such organization existed; inquiring as to whether they meant a St. Louis County drug task force? Malin knew of that separate group and had already gotten info from them.

In a later round of emails, Lawson "claimed he'd 'brought this up to the Chief of Police' and that the Chief 'doesn't know what the Missouri Highway Patrol could be referencing.' "

Malin found references in documents from the Missouri Department of Public Safety showing that that self-same chief of police was responsible for and spent hundreds of thousands in grant money in the name of what one might call a specialized drug task force. And:

guess who is listed on the very first page of the 2012 Grant Details Report as the "authorized official" legally responsible for accepting over $200k/year in funding for the task force? That's right- its Mr. Mark Lawson, the SLMPD lawyer with whom I'd been communicating all along. 

But it seems the official name was not what the Highway Patrol website listed, but rather (with an office number the same as that listed for the so-called "St. Louis Metro DTF") was the "Metro Multi-jurisdictional Undercover Drug Program." Upon writing Lawson to explain that he knew this name for the program now, in late April, Malin stopped hearing back from Lawson at all.

As Malin sums up these technical shenanigans:

The lengths to which the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department was willing to go to avoid providing public records is troubling. Drug Task Forces in Missouri are entrusted with more power and are subject to less accountability than would be expected of typical law enforcement, which further underscores the need for transparency. The shenanigans of the SLMPD demonstrated here fly in the face of the spirit, if not the letter, of Missouri's Sunshine Law. More than that, it is an affront to good governance that major police departments default to denying the existence of a drug task force when records pertaining to it are requested. 

NEXT: Q&A with Roger Custer of America's Future Foundation: Millennials and the Liberty Movement

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The War on Drugs brings out the absolute worst in every part of government.

    1. What doesn’t?

    2. Time brings out the absolute worst in every part of government.

  2. So apparently “DTF” means “Down To Fuck” in some social contexts.

    I had no idea.

    St. Louis Metro DTF

    Aww yeah.

    1. YOU? You had no idea? Jesus, jesse, how are we going to get the camps going if your basic knowledge is so lacking.

      1. Stop oppressing me with your unwieldy, heteronormative methods of finding no-strings sex!

        DTF just started showing up, before that it was all “looking?” or “what are you into?” I blame bisexuals and Tinder.

        1. Omigod like gays aren’t the fucking QUEENS of knowing how to find no-strings sex.

          And yes I said queens. Deal.

          1. That’s my point, Nicole. We don’t need Down To Fuck because unless otherwise stated, we are. Hence the popularity of “looking?” it assumes a down-ness to fuck, but accepts that sometimes you’re cooking dinner, watching TV, or have just fucked a few minutes ago and need a disco nap.

            1. I feel compelled to note that after important consultations with a girlfriend, we don’t think “DTF” is usually something you say about yourself, but used more in the context of, “Damn, that bitch is DTF!” So, we’re old and don’t understand Tinder either.

              1. My understanding from straight friends on Tinder is that it is often used in profiles as indicating that one is down to fuck or as a question to ascertain if someone else is down to fuck.

                Favorite Tinder story, direct quote from a friend:

                in less than 24 hours of tinder I already had a date and another girl turn down my offer for drinks because she would rather I just came over for “some bowls and boning”

                [extended fretting that it was some kind of mfm threeway trap and me encouraging him to come back with a solid spitroast story]

                i mean what girl turns down a safe neutral meeting zone for a first date?

                1. Its either going to be really awesome or its a MMM threeway trap – the ‘girl’ in the personal is a G.I.R.L.

                2. i mean what girl turns down a safe neutral meeting zone for a first date?

                  Srsly. Even for no-strings situations, I think most chicks require, myself included, references (friend-of-a-friend) or a neutral meeting place to determine creep factor.

                  1. Creep factor? But, but..

                    \equal outcomes

          2. Q-slur?

      2. Will you be branding people with laserscan?

        1. I’ll leave the aesthetics up to jesse. He’s probably better at that part.

          1. Just remember QR codes. Bar codes don’t work well when placed on skin and you can link the QR code to your blog.

            1. I like it. We can buy ones that look like our faces! Or like jesse’s dick and my snatch.

              1. Whoa, whoa, whoa. I just realized something. This whole scenario makes you TEAM HOLE and jesse TEAM POLE.

                1. There you go. They can get T-shirts, like what twilightfags got.

                2. We shall both pledge to make your pinkie all stinky.

                  1. Well now I’m as moist as a snack cake down there.

                  2. Goddamn, guys, I can’t believe I came back from two hours of meetings.to.find this.gem. I fucking hate having to work, I miss all the.good.conversations here!

              2. Hmm, this might be one of those inter-generational miscommunications.

                When I say ‘QR Code’ I mean this

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code

                So, unless the two of you have some really *weird* genital configurations . . .

                1. Have you never seen one that looks like a thing? E.g., Wild Turkey was doing a campaign and bought 2-D barcodes that looked like…turkeys. It’s a thing.

                  1. Apparently lots of people search for ‘QR codes that look like Hitler’.

                    Are the neo-nazis really getting into tech or what?

                    1. Now I see it – that bit in the middle that looks like something isn’t actually part of the code.

                      But do you want your snatch to be represented by a dark blotch?

                    2. Not QR codes that look like the Jesus they saw in their morning French toast?

                    3. Ever since the wunder waffen projects lost funding the Nazi crowd has been struggling to catch back up

              3. Why aren’t we just RFID chipping them like one does with children or pets?

                1. Pain and humiliation.

                  1. Think of it this way.

                    With RFID the burakumin can go about their daily business and checks and tracking are unobtrusive. They can hide their status from others.

                    Code ’em and require them to present at checkpoints and they have to explain to friends and family why they have that shit tattooed on. Then the low-castes can describe the horror that’s coming.

  3. If there’s no task force, then they won’t mind us taking back the money being spent on it.

  4. These are not the drug warriors you are looking for..

    1. The first part is standard policy in “transparent” administrations. Prior to the current governer, the policy on FOI requests in NY was to compile the information the requester sought in the spirit of the request. The new policy is to only provide exactly what is requested, and to find any reason to exclude documentation. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were operating under a similar policy. The ‘stopped responding’ part is not policy and quite childish.

      1. The “exactly what is requested” policy is also childish.

        Maybe more so than the not responding.

        1. In my case, I blame Cuomo.

          Luckily, I don’t process FOI requests, so I don’t get stuck between that policy and my conscience. (Pissing off the connecteds in an action in violation of policy is something they will remove a state worker for, blindly following the policy is the ‘safe’ route financially speaking)

          His actions in this case suggest that the lawyer wholeheartedly agrees with the ‘exactly as requested’ policy because the peasants don’t need to know.

          1. But but but the Moreland Commission was supposed to give us transparent government!

            I’m up for making AG an appointed position and barring them from running for further political office.

  5. I have a creepy feeling that I live unknowingly in a reality show co-produced by Franz Kafka and George Orwell.

    Do I spend too much time reading H&R?

    1. Do I spend too much time reading H&R?

      I understand the sentiment. Here are a few questions can help determine this:

      1) Have you punched your monitor more than twice in the last business week or thrown you laptop out of a window within the last month?

      2) How would you rate your overall level of testicular soreness?

      3) Have you begun engaging in dark fantasies about taking superhero-like revenge on the nation’s political class?

      4) Are you having trouble containing your impatience for the next episode of The Doomcock of Doom?

      5) Do you find yourself lingering in malls and flea markets browsing for leather jackets?

      6) Have you caught yourself thinking “Maybe this Richman guy is onto something?”

      7) What percentage of your meals have been eaten at a food truck in the last two weeks?

      1. 8) Have you thought about someone (probably jesse’s) mom in an inappropriate way?

        1. 1) Have you punched your monitor more than twice in the last business week or thrown you laptop out of a window within the last month?

          2) How would you rate your overall level of testicular soreness?

          3) Have you begun engaging in dark fantasies about taking superhero-like revenge on the nation’s political class?

          4) Are you having trouble containing your impatience for the next episode of The Doomcock of Doom?

          5) Do you find yourself lingering in malls and flea markets browsing for leather jackets?

          6) Have you caught yourself thinking “Maybe this Richman guy is onto something?”

          7) What percentage of your meals have been eaten at a food truck in the last two weeks?

          Episiarch|6.5.14 @ 2:30PM|#

          8) Have you thought about someone (probably jesse’s) mom in an inappropriate way?

          1: No.

          2: That’s HIPPA Protected Data

          3: I invoke my 5th Amendment Right against self-incrimination

          4: Replace impatience with dread, and you might get a twitch, but I don’t really care.

          5: No.

          6: Who?

          7: 0%

          8: No.

  6. OT:

    The EU just introduced negative interest rates.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-27717594

    What could go wrong?

    it did have the effect of lowering the value of the currency

    Oh yeah that….

    1. Heh. You’d have to *pay* me to go to Europe!

    2. Wait, Europe is debasing their currency?

      Time to cash in some frequent flyer miles!

      1. I’m going in just a few weeks! Woo hoo purchasing power for me!

        1. Ticketed for Autumn!

        2. Cornings quote was a little cropped:

          It has been tried before in smaller economies. Sweden and Denmark, who are both outside the Single Currency, attempted to use negative rates in recent years with mixed results.

          Analysts said in Sweden it had little discernible impact; in Denmark it did have the effect of lowering the value of the currency, the Krone, but according to the Danish Banking Association it also hit the banks’ bottom line profits.

          It has the potential for debasing the currency, but won’t necessarily. We can always hope though.

          1. Sweden and Denmark?!? What about Finland and Estonia? And especially Germany?

          2. Cornings quote was a little cropped:

            and

            It has the potential for debasing the currency, but won’t necessarily.

            really?

            First off i linked the article, second i prepped the quote with “what could go wrong”. notice the use of the word “could”, third i never said or quoted the phrase “debasing the currency”.

            Fuck you Jesse.

            1. If you wash the sand out of your panties there’ll be less chafing.

              My read of your post was that they went to negative interest rates and the market responded by taking the Euro down a peg. “what could go wrong” was read as a snarky introduction to an obvious “unintended” consequence.

              On reading the article, which you graciously linked, I saw that’s not what the article was saying, and doused Epi’s and my enthusiasm for a weaker Euro.

  7. The shenanigans of the SLMPD demonstrated here fly in the face of the spirit, if not the letter, of Missouri’s Sunshine Law.

    “It’s not the ‘Missouri State Correctional Facility’. It’s the ‘Big House’, asshole.”

  8. Police resent being questioned. This person is lucky they didn’t pay a visit to show exactly how much they resent being questioned.

  9. OT: I got a fucking ticket for approaching 80 in a 45 zone on my Kawasaki ZRX this weekend. How’d I miss seeing the cop? Dunno, but it’s costing me 155 and THREE (3) points! I had to choke out a “thanks for that” when Officer Roidrage reduced it to “11-15 over” instead of….*gets out abacus*….uh…..35 over. So.

    Oh well – as an inveterate speeder – first ticket since they caught me in Ohio approach 100 on the turnpike three years ago 🙂

    Carry on! And….let’s be careful out there…

    1. PS I almost bit my tongue in half preventing myself from responding to one of his questions with, “Yeah….yah caught The Tater….”

    2. How’d I miss seeing the cop?

      Could be it had something to do with going 80. Could be.

      And you should be doubly grateful to Officer Roidrage – Where I live that could have got you a night in jail.

    3. On a bike? Should have just blown past him. I hear that crotch rockets actually manage to evade the cops quite a bit.

      1. Not a genius move on this particular road, about 1/2 a mile from my house 🙂 Noooo – he was right on my….bumper? Rear tire.

        He had The Tater dead ta rights.

        I just give up when they catch me fair and square.

        Yeah, upon reflection, maybe RIDINGREALLYFAST I missed seeing him on the sideroad, cause I was concentrating on passing that Mustang I was closing on…rapidly 🙂

    4. I got one last summer for going 83 on a 65 on my Gixxer. Speed of traffic at the time? 80+. Normally, I’d just flick the wrist and leave ’em behind, but he came flying up at 100+ and started tailgating me, so he definitely had my plate.

      Ended up beating that one in court by arguing that the speed limit was set arbitrarily low in violation of the zoning law and was thus unenforceable. 🙂

  10. Sounds a little bit like breaking the law.

    1. “Breakin’ the law! Breakin’ the law! dah dahh! Breaking the law! Breakin the law! dah dahhhhh”

      /Beavis and Butthead

        1. EXACTLY

  11. Soo.. Mendacious word mincing, deliberate and petty obfuscation, and childish word games when referring to a very serious and politically charged subject. How would federal grand jury indictments for fraud, embezzlement, and possible violations of the RICO act grab you? HAHAHAHHA!! RELAX! I’m just bullshitting.. you can keep that money, and here’s some more… Just remember! “Drugs are bad!”.. Oh, and.. we thank you for your fealty..

    /The DOJ

  12. But it seems the official name was not what the Highway Patrol website listed, but rather (with an office number the same as that listed for the so-called “St. Louis Metro DTF”) was the “Metro Multi-jurisdictional Undercover Drug Program.”

    This seems ok to me, but not this:

    Upon writing Lawson to explain that he knew this name for the program now, in late April, Malin stopped hearing back from Lawson at all.

    1. If you refer to something by an assumed name, you don’t get to play dumb when other people use that same assumed name.

      What an asshole.

      1. If you refer to something by an assumed name, you don’t get to play dumb when other people use that same assumed name.

        Which is why I said the second part was not right. But to your point that you don’t get to play dumb, it isn’t playing dumb. If you send in a FOIA request, it has to be specific, which means you have to have the correct name*. Lawson should have explained that to Malin.

        *for Fed FOI requests anyway.

        1. If you get the information from an official government website, it is their problem if it is not specific enough!

  13. Fucking nosy serfs.

  14. End the drug war.

  15. All police officers are taught to lie, use subterfuge and other manipulations to obtain information, evidence, and confessions. In short they are trained and practiced liars who further avoid answering even the most direct questions. I’m not sure what it would take to change this but I advise everyone that even if innocent of wrongdoing to never ever answer questions posed by a police officer.

    Any statement can be twisted and used to cast suspicion and sustain an allegation.

    Expensive as it may be I also believe that the only way to gain information from the police is through the courts. FOIA requests can be stalled, redacted, as in this case they can use a misnaming, perhaps even a misspelling, to avoid disclosure. Our government top to bottom wants absolute transparency from us but denies such from them.

  16. Since this article is about acronyms, I am surprised no one has posted the obvious yet;

    So, all together now: FYTW!

  17. Also, how come I can’t get my avatar to show up in reasonable? Is it a squirrel problem? Or operator error?

  18. its awesome,,, Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $100 a day. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. http://www.Fox81.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.