“Prohibition has filled our jails, criminalized millions of our citizens, provided a financial windfall for international and local criminal groups and somehow we never tire of pretending it is working. We must end this failed policy.”
Howard Rahtz has experienced on many levels the damage caused by drug abuse. With a dual background in drug treatment and drug interdiction, Howard has concluded that the drug war has failed as a policy and that America needs to embrace a different approach. .
During his 18-year career in the Cincinnati Police Department Howard obtained the rank of Police Captain. He served as a SWAT Negotiations Team Coordinator obtaining successful resolutions of hostage and barricade situations. While Captain of the Central Vice Control Section, he shifted the focus of drug enforcement from arrests to longer-term strategic efforts and improved efficiency, which led to increased seizures of drugs, money and assets from traffickers.
Prior to his law enforcement career, Howard gained valuable insight into the drug problem as a supervisor for a methadone program. “The people I supervised were recovering addicts. I learned a tremendous amount about addiction and its impact on people’s lives.” His experiences grew further, as Executive Director of the Alcoholism Council where he established treatment, intervention and prevention programs in the Cincinnati community. He was instrumental in starting the first local family intervention program and spearheaded the first agency to address the needs of children of addicted parents.
When the “crack epidemic” hit Cincinnati and as the concern for drugs overwhelmed the priorities of the police department, he could see that increasing seizures didn’t make a dent in the drug trade.
Howard sees three tenets to the drug war that demand a change in policy. Effectiveness: The Drug War is clearly not fulfilling any of its goals to reduce drug use or keep us safe. Cost: In the midst of this economic crisis, we can’t continue to throw money down the drug war sewer. Basic Fairness: How do we explain we are locking people up for the same behavior participated in by Presidents, Governors, and Supreme Court Justices?
Howard believes a new approach is needed. “Prohibition has filled our jails, criminalized millions of our citizens, provided a financial windfall for international and local criminal groups and somehow we never tire of pretending it is working. We must end this failed policy.”
Howard holds a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Cincinnati, a degree from Northwestern University School of Police Command and from the Ohio Police Executive Leadership College. He teaches at two Ohio police academies and is the author of Community Policing: A Handbook for Beatcops & Supervisors and Understanding Police Use of Force. Click here to read Howard's blog