In a belated serving of justice,
one of the leaders of a local drug ring was sentenced to 40 years
in prison last week, seven months after police raided his
operation, which was centered on 512 Packard St. The police action
came after 10 years of complaints ranging from burglary to sexual
assault, in the end totaling 227 calls. Meanwhile, back on campus,
the first two months of school have seen dramatic increases in
minor in possession of alcohol tickets and what appears to be a
policy defined by constant night-time street sweeps and excessive
citations. It seems odd that it takes 10 years for the police to
take legal action on a known threat to the community, while scores
of students receive legal punishment every week for participating
in a largely harmless ingrained cultural aspect of college:
consuming alcohol. Instead of prioritizing issues like MIPs, the
police should seek to protect the community from clear threats,
such as large-scale locally run drug rings.

While alcohol can clearly cause serious damage to an individual
if consumed irresponsibly, the context in which University students
most often consume alcohol are far from dangerous. It is possible
for a student to receive a citation merely for being in possession
of alcohol. Overzealous enforcement of underage drinking laws has
stripped students of precious money, as MIPs can cost a significant
chunk of change, and has clearly proved ineffective in reducing the
underage drinking on campus.

In contrast to the minimal requirements for receiving legal
punishment for drinking, the group that had been operating out of
the house on Packard faced more than 20 charges of cocaine delivery
as well as three charges of possession of cocaine and intent to
deliver within 1,000 feet of a school zone. Additionally, the house
was well known by students for its illegal activities. Police who
react to a red cup from a block away should instead be more
inclined to respond to a house that received such widespread
attention for 10 years.

The untimely response by the police to the local drug ring is
symbolic of a potentially dangerous trend. Students should be
worried that more attention seems to be given to revenue-building
offenses for the City of Ann Arbor, like parking tickets and MIPs,
than to known drug trafficking and repeated assault occurring at a
known location. It is true that combating and prosecuting serious
drug offenses often takes time due to the necessity of acquiring
warrants and gathering important information, but 10 years is
surely excessive. When a clear danger to the community exists,
police must make that a top priority. In the coming months, it
would be a welcome sign to see fewer police cruisers roaming the
student ghettos during the nights in search of alcohol offenses and
more resources instead being allocated toward dangers that pose a
real threat to the community directly and consistently.

City officials repeatedly claim that the police would rather not
hand out MIPs and enforce underage drinking offenses. Whether or
not this is true, that argument lacks credibility when considering
that the police never fail to dole out MIPs, but it took them a
decade to shut down an infamous crack house.

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