The armed standoff in Kawerau began with a police raid on someone growing marijuana. A peaceful drug attracting violence only because it has been made illegal.
An armed standoff only begun because this harmless drug has been made illegal.
Meanwhile, while the police ride helicopters to pluck harmless leaves from the countryside, they manage to resolve only 10% of the burglaries inflicted upon New Zealanders – 164 unresolved burglaries a day -- not because they can’t, but because they don’t want to. Why don’t they want to? Eric Crampton offers one reason: Priorities.
If it puzzles you that the New Zealand Police can find resources to run raids on marijuana growers, which sometimes turn into armed standoffs, but cannot find resources to solve burglaries, remember this:The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act enables police to seize assets believed to be the proceeds of crime, with or without a conviction.
Since it came into effect, $382 million worth of assets has been restrained (which means the police hold on to it during an investigation), while $85 million has been forfeited altogether. The funds recovered are used to fund law enforcement initiatives.
Police Minister Judith Collins says police have been “extremely successful” in investigating and seizing the “dirty money” of criminals and gangs since the legislation was introduced.
About 96% of forfeitures and 86% of restraints are linked to drugs and organised crime.
What profit is there in solving a home break-in? Anything you seize has to go back to the property's owners. But if you go after the folks who only commit victimless crimes, well, there's nobody who has to be compensated out of the seizures.
I hate saying I told you so, but I did tell you so.
The cops will tell us that the standoff's lesson is that police should be better armed. But when was the last time that the police needed to do raids, armed or otherwise, on a brewery or a distillery? Or on the Petone cigarette plant?
The better lesson is that legalised markets are less violent and have less need for armed cops.
Update: Commenter Ben rightly notes that the funds don't go directly to the police. Here's the NZ Drug Foundation on that:The lion’s share (70 percent) has gone to Police, Customs, Justice and Corrections. Health gets the rest.