Should Campus Police Be Using Students as Drug Informants?

Here are the opening paragraphs of an article that appeared in yesterday’s Boston Globe:

“The University of Massachusetts Amherst announced Monday that it will review aspects of a campus police department program that uses students as confidential drug informants, after a disclosure that an informant for the university police died of a heroin overdose.

“The university defended the program, but said it will review whether to require informants in drug cases to get help for possible addictions and whether to notify parents when a student is recruited into the program.”

From just these two paragraphs, any clear-thinking observer can very readily deduce that this “program” creates so many inherently problematic possibilities that they cannot possibly be outweighed by whatever positive results it might produce.

But it’s actually worse than those first two paragraphs might lead you to suspect. The student was initially arrested for possession of LSD, and the charges against him were dropped when he agreed to provide campus police with information about the sale and use of narcotics on the campus.

The rent-a-cops that used to patrol our campuses back when I was in college were pretty much a joke. But, between the stories about the acquisition of surplus military equipment by campus police departments and stories such as this one, a return to the generally benign ineptitude of bygone eras is starting to seem worth the risks.

More than anything else, this sort of situation suggests that those in leadership positions have completely lost perspective in their pursuit of very narrowly defined and very skewed priorities.

The complete article is available at:

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