Faulty Field Tests And Overblown Drug Raid Claims: The War On Drugs In Clay County, Florida

from the serving-and-press-conferencing dept

Yet another Florida sheriff with a penchant for publicity is using his office (and manpower) to start some garbage viral War on Drugs. Hence, every bust made by his department -- utilizing armored vehicles and deputies that look like they shop at military surplus stores -- is splashed across the department's Facebook page. Fine, if that's what gets your blood flowing, but these scenes of busts, featuring the Sheriff front and center, contain claims that just aren't backed up by the actual paperwork. George Joseph of The Appeal has the details.

The video finds Sheriff [Darryl] Daniels, who announces to the viewer that criminals must leave his county or face the consequences. The camera follows him to the house, briefly focusing on a broken window before Daniels opens the door. Standing in the raided home, Daniels takes a large swig of his morning cup of coffee and declares, “Fifteen going to jail, three big gulps.”

Despite the sheriff’s announcement, the “raid” resulted in only five adult arrests and one juvenile arrest, according to Elaine Brown, a lead records specialist at the sheriff’s office.

At best, maybe five will be going to jail. The sheriff depicts this as a raid on a "narcotics house" targeting opioids. The records obtained by The Appeal show no opioids were found during the raid. Four of the five adults were arrested for marijuana possession. The fifth was charged with MDMA and cocaine possession. But chances are those drugs might vanish along with the nonexistent opioids Sheriff Daniels proudly proclaims were taken out of circulation.

Note the line about the field drug tests performed. These have already been proven bogus. A sheriff's office spokesman informed The Appeal that the 1.2 grams of heroin and fentanyl seized during the raid turned out not be opioids after being lab-tested. But the field tests told Sheriff Daniels everything he wanted to hear.

The reliance on cheap, terrible drug field tests is part of Sheriff Daniels' drug-raiding tradition. Arrests and seizures sound great when you're dragging a camera through someone's house for a Facebook video, but when nothing holds up in court, you're left with an empty charade using citizens as clickbait.

A former deputy contacted by The Appeal points out that cheap drug tests are just another tool for abusive police work.

“The really good ones cost money, but those take away your probable cause,” he said, referring to arrests and police searches for which error-prone drug test field kits can provide legal pretext. “It’s probably the cheapest ones they could get to do the minimum standards for an investigation.”

This same former deputy also pointed out the marijuana charges were trumped up. According to reports, 35 grams of marijuana were seized during the raid, but somehow two people are being charged with possession of more than 20 grams.

Cheap tests, cheap vicarious thrills, and a whole lot of hype over drug charges that will likely dissipate into minimal punishment (if anything) once the lab tests arrive. That's how America's drug warriors roll. Sheriff Daniels rolls a little harder than most, but that's because tough-on-crime sheriffs are newscaster favorites. As The Appeal points out, Daniels has leveraged these videos to appear on national news networks and say ridiculous things like he's planning to treat all drug overdoses as homicides.

This report points out some very unpleasant things about our war on drugs. Law enforcement officials may claim to recognize drug addiction as a sickness, but they're still far more interested in rounding up users than dealers. Faulty field drug tests allow officials to exaggerate their successes (and misrepresent the amount of dangerous drugs in the community), when not allowing them to perform searches they otherwise wouldn't have probable cause to perform. They're part permission slip, part unpaid PR rep. And this constant failure of field drug tests to accurately identify drugs gets ignored but local media, for the most part, isn't willing to follow up on high-profile drug raids to correct the record. And it keeps working because many Americans love the image of "tough on drugs" officers kicking in doors and waving guns around. But, far too often, "tough" just means dumb, brutish, and unconstitutional.


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 15 Jun 2018 @ 3:32pm

    As The Appeal points out, Daniels has leveraged these videos to appear on national news networks and say ridiculous things like he's planning to treat all drug overdoses as homicides.

    What exactly is ridiculous about that? You think the drug dealers didn't know they were selling stuff that can kill people? Seems to me the Felony Murder Rule clearly applies here. (Does Florida have that? I know it varies state-by-state.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Teka rain, 15 Jun 2018 @ 3:58pm

      Re:

      Okay, so every liver failure or associated death is now murder by the brewery, the state regulator And the retailer, a conspiracy I tell you. Every smoker who dies of hard arteries or failing lungs is chalked up as a literal murder by Phillip Morris and 7-11. Every time an obese man passes away squad cars are zooming down the street to slap cuffs on Ronald McDonald.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Jun 2018 @ 4:55pm

        Yeah I can get behind that.

        Considering tobacco not only has high death tolls but is statistically the actual gateway drug to harder stuff (legal or otherwise), this may be the means to finally kill the big tobacco empire.

        Or we can still use drug infractions to keep stuffing our for-profit prisons with warm bodies.

        Yes, I'm bitter. Why do you ask?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2018 @ 10:29am

          Re: Yeah I can get behind that.

          So are you going to go after sugar, caffiene, lard - were does it end?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Jun 2018 @ 12:59pm

            Re: Re: Yeah I can get behind that.

            I was being facetious, though granted that may not have been fully clear.

            My current opinion is we should do what Portugal has done most recently (and appears to be working) which is to decriminalize usage of all controlled substances and treat addiction as a illness.

            No, the whole War On Drugs is a scam to perpetuate a yearly multi-billion-dollar budget and harassing marginalized sectors of society.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          !ROGS!, 19 Jun 2018 @ 3:19am

          Re: Yeah I can get behind that.

          Yeah, but Edward Bernays and family will still be filthy rich from the profits.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torches_of_Freedom

          I want my smoking reparations!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 19 Jun 2018 @ 8:24am

        Re: Re:

        Okay, so every liver failure or associated death is now murder by the brewery, the state regulator And the retailer, a conspiracy I tell you. Every smoker who dies of hard arteries or failing lungs is chalked up as a literal murder by Phillip Morris and 7-11. Every time an obese man passes away squad cars are zooming down the street to slap cuffs on Ronald McDonald.

        Umm... do you even know what the Felony Murder Rule is? Because nothing you just wrote would actually apply, but dealing illegal drugs would.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 15 Jun 2018 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      You can overdose on WATER. Many people do every year. Gonna apply felony murder charges to whomever supplied the water? I didn't think so.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 16 Jun 2018 @ 1:03am

      Re:

      You think the drug dealers didn't know they were selling stuff that can kill people?

      Every car dealer does that, and in contrast to drugs, a lot more people die from cars they were not involved with.

      Homicide is knowingly selling cars with faulty brakes or drugs laced with poison.

      But selling stuff that is inherently dangerous rather than deliberately (and surprisingly) dangerous is not homicide.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 17 Jun 2018 @ 7:46pm

      Re:

      I'm saying that dealers *can't* know if they're selling something that can kill people - thanks to the government.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2018 @ 5:59am

      Re:

      You think the drug dealers didn't know they were selling stuff that can kill people?

      I'd be happy to apply this policy to drug dealers as soon as we also apply it to guns. Deal?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2018 @ 4:10pm

    unpleasant things

    "...some very unpleasant things about our war on drugs."



    the biggest thing is that there is absolutely NO Constitutional/legal authority to criminalize the use of any drugs/chemicals.

    The government fig-leaf for conducting the massive War on Drugs is that the Constitution "Commerce Clause" somehow grants the government full authority to dictate what peaceful Americans may inhale/inject/ingest to their bodies.
    It is a bizarre legal posture.

    Note that 1918 US alcohol Prohibition movement fully recognized that American government had no legal authority whatsoever to prohibit alcohol. A formal Constitutional amendment was required for that (Prohibition was a national disaster and the Amendment was repealed).

    Now our government just does whatever it wants, without concern for that pesky constitutional stuff.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2018 @ 5:01pm

      Re: unpleasant things

      Most people are prosecuted under state law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2018 @ 7:26am

        Re: Re: unpleasant things

        ... the states merely enforce the FEDERAL Controlled Substances Schedule

        FEDERAL DEA is huge and extremely active -- arresting tons of people

        FEDS eagerly jump into any state that may slack off on the sacred Drug War crusade

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Bergman (profile), 16 Jun 2018 @ 11:09am

          Re: Re: Re: unpleasant things

          The Controlled Substances Act was passed around the time the feds were putting major pressure on the states to prohibit the same stuff the CSA did. They did this for the reason that they knew full well the CSA was unconstitutional in any state that failed to enact matching prohibition.

          But people have gotten so used to the CSA being around, they've forgotten that the US Constitution makes it VERY clear that commerce clause or not, the feds lack prohibitory authority over intoxicants.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 15 Jun 2018 @ 4:26pm

    Facebook

    He's posting all these vids on facebook to leverage those news items.

    Anyone consider buying a few of those bottom end field test kits and putting out some videos of how they test positive for cocaine on sugar, ANY dried leaf is marijuana, etc? You could go through the kitchen testing stuff to point out just how ridiculous it is to rely on them for Probable Cause. They'd probably pop positive for just about any meat items as well.

    Get THAT circulating on facebook and the news will pick it up here and there. As will defense attorneys once it gets well known.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 16 Jun 2018 @ 11:23am

      Re: Facebook

      What gets me is that the courts often rule that a simple declaration of guilt by police is not probable cause, but using a test kit that will false positive from AIR somehow creates probable cause!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Jun 2018 @ 12:57pm

        False positive = probable cause

        This seems to be a norm now, hence dogs that false-positive 80% of the time are being kept in place of sniffing technology that detects smaller traces and is more accurate. They want to keep the free bypass of Fourth Amendment protections.

        But this is bringing to question all forensic detection systems and the legitimacy of the court system itself. The US legal system is demonstrating it cannot adjudicate but only abducts warm bodies to fill prisons.

        It's very likely there are more innocent incarcerated in the US than people actually guilty of the crimes they were convicted. (We're all guilty of crap but not stuff that should warrant prison time, or really be against the law at all.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Jun 2018 @ 4:42pm

    "“The really good ones cost money, but those take away your probable cause,” he said, referring to arrests and police searches for which error-prone drug test field kits can provide legal pretext. “It’s probably the cheapest ones they could get to do the minimum standards for an investigation.”"

    They knowingly are purchasing tests KNOWN to give false positives so they can invent probable cause.

    They are wasting taxpayer money, on shitty tests, so they can trump up charges against them.

    Someone let me know at what point the local DA should be trying very hard to cover his ass for allowing violations of peoples civil rights to move forward for a Chief to LIE to the public about crime?

    It's one of those silly things no one wants to think about until your loose leaf tea gets your house raided for a photo op, destroying your reputation & forcing you to pay to defend against bogus charges... only to have a court give them good faith to dodge responsibility for having manufactured evidence.

    These are bad people so the methods don't matter... at some point someone is gonna think you are a bad person.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 16 Jun 2018 @ 11:32am

      Re:

      It's unconstitutional to create a less privileged class of citizen, and the Constitution generally places far greater limits on government officials than on private citizens.

      If they can benefit from the good faith doctrine, so can anyone, or the doctrine is challengable on constitutional grounds.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 15 Jun 2018 @ 9:32pm

    They could save lots of money and get more arrests by just using blue food coloring for the drug testing kits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 16 Jun 2018 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      Wouldn't it be fun to get ahold of one of those cocaine field 'test' kits that false positive on air, and swab a police officer with one? Or perhaps test a drug sniffing dog with one and 'prove' that the dog is alerting on its own fur?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ken Willey, 16 Jun 2018 @ 11:57am

    I know Darryl Daniels. I live in his county. He is now having deputies pull over vehicles for having partially obscured text on their license plate as a pretext for asking to search the vehicle. The dog is kept in close proximity in case the driver refuses to submit. This isn't guess, they admitted to it at a public town hall a few days ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TammieLee, 17 Jun 2018 @ 7:13am

    Using their office

    Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, New York attorney general refuses to sue Trump Foundation because Schneiderman never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it for political reasons.

    They ignore the violations of the Clinton Foundation this thing reeks of politics

    But speaking of the drug war, People in Honduras have to flee their country because the Drug Gangs, don't you democrats think you should stop buying Marijuana, you're making the drug gangs rich

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Police State Troll Buster, 19 Jun 2018 @ 3:15am

    I stole my online nym from a dead guy.

    https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Ewell-135

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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