"Drug problems are best left to the public health system."
Robert J. Hoffman served for 25 years with the Plainfield, Connecticut Police Department, starting as a patrol officer in 1987. As he worked his way up to sergeant, lieutenant, and eventually chief of police, he performed general law enforcement duties as well as specific narcotics enforcement. In 2000, he attended the FBI National Academy, 204th Session. From 2007 through 2012, he served as chief of police, where he commanded the entire department including all personnel, activities, and programs.
It was not one event but his full career that made him realize that treating drug issues as a crime was a waste of time, effort, and human lives. “These draconian laws make no sense; they only exacerbate the suffering of people who use or abuse drugs and, worse, they shortchange victims of violent crime. Drug problems are best left to the public health system,” he says.
Robert believes that treating people like criminals and forcing them to become involved in illicit markets can cause them to act like criminals in even worse ways. He explains, “Whenever any activity is deemed criminal by society it should be of no surprise that some people who engage in that activity act like criminals in other ways as well.” One example that still sticks with him took place in Plainfield in the mid-2000s, when a small-time dealer was shot and killed by a customer over $400.
Growing up the son of a police chief, Robert always knew he wanted to end up in law enforcement. “I knew it would be fun and it was fun,” he says, “but it was also dangerous. Serving search and seizure warrants for drug crimes is always performed with guns drawn because it was dangerous work. I did not want to be the next police chief in America to lose an officer to this idiotic drug war.”
Robert is a U.S. Navy veteran and a graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University.