War on Drugs

Detroit Cops Posing As Drug Dealers Brawl With Colleagues Posing As Customers

Maybe this is how the war on drugs should be fought from now on.



Last week in Detroit, undercover cops posing as drug dealers got into a public brawl with undercover cops posing as drug buyers. WJBK, the local Fox station, calls the fight, which involved drawn guns, flying fists, and at least two dozen officers, "a case of the good guys going after the good guys." The description is debatable.

The fake drug dealers, who were from the city's 12th Precinct, planned to arrest anyone who approached them and seize their vehicles—actions that would rightly be recognized as assault, kidnapping, and theft but for the warped moral logic of the war on drugs. The fake drug buyers, who were from the 11th Precinct, planned to arrest people for agreeing to the consensual exchange of merchandise for money. They ordered the other cops to the ground, at which point the two officers from the 12th Precinct must have realized they had mistaken colleagues for criminals and that their colleagues had made the same mistake. Yet they all got into a fight anyway.

After the initial confrontation, WJBK reports, "the rest of the special ops team from the 12th Precinct showed up" and started to raid the "drug house." The homeowner "stood and watched" as "guns were drawn and punches were thrown." At least one officer was taken to the hospital.

The Daily Mail reports that the incident was recorded by body cameras. WJBK says "each officer involved is now under investigation" as "the department tries to determine what went wrong."

What went wrong, aside from the obvious lack of coordination and professionalism, is that the government decided to violently insert itself into peaceful transactions between consenting adults, which led police officers to pose as such so they could lock people in cages for actions that violate no one's rights. In this case, each side to the transaction wanted to lock up the other side, and each side understandably resented the other's intention. But at least the collateral damage was kept to a minimum. Maybe this is how the war on drugs should be waged from now on.