The city is moving toward a hard look at the cost and effectiveness of the
drug war.

The Public Safety Review Board on Tuesday endorsed a proposal asking the
city and Dane County to reconsider drug enforcement polices and to
recommend changes. Ald. Judy Olson, 6th District, offered the proposal in
the fall of 1999, but she didn't push it due to uncertainty about support
from the mayor's office and Madison Police Department.

But Olson is now pushing after Mayor Sue Bauman's recent State of the City
address, in which Bauman described the drug war as a "failed policy" and
called for more prevention and intervention to fight substance abuse.

The mounting costs of disciplining city firefighters caught in a federal
drug probe at the former Jocko's Rocket Ship bar Downtown has also set the
stage for rethinking drug abuse strategies, Olson said.

Olson expects the Madison City Council to soon refer her proposal to the
mayor's office, where interests can produce a framework for a community
discussion on drugs, which could lead to change.

"I see a changing atmosphere," Olson told the board, adding that she
personally prefers decriminalization.

Stephanie Rearick, representing the Drug Policy Task Force of the
influential political party, Progressive Dane, told the board some people
aren't sure whether to call 911 to report drug overdoses and that policy
changes are needed to help save lives.

Madison police officials could not be reached for comment.

Bauman's chief of staff, Enis Ragland, later said Olson's proposal
dovetails with the mayor's recent call for a gathering of health and law
enforcement professionals to decide how to combat drug use at its earliest

Newshawk: Progressive Dane Drug Policy Task Force
Pubdate: Sat, 18 Aug 2001
Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)
Copyright: 2001 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Dean Mosiman, City government reporter