Common Pattern to Urban Drug Problems

DRUG-RELATED activities are very similar from city to city, says an authority who spent this past year with police in many parts of inner-city America. He is Edwin Delattre, Bradley Fellow in applied ethics at the American Enterprise Institute. His book on ethics in police work will be published early this summer . Despite some individual differences among cities, he says, ``most places you go'' the circumstances are similar.

In most cities there are ``tremendous supplies of narcotics hitting the streets; huge numbers of young people being brought into the streets.

``I've been in cities where there are nine-year-olds making $100 a day as lookouts. Kids 13 to 16 making five times that, selling crack on corners ... and returning money to somebody higher up in the traffic chain.

``You've got the collapse of any kind of condition of safety'' in individual buildings and ``whole neighborhoods.'' Police resources are inadequate, and prisons are overflowing, he says.

In many cities, funds and facilities for treatment of drug addicts are woefully inadequate: ``There are waiting lists months and months long'' for admission to clinics.

``All these phenomena are commonplace in the areas worst hit by narcotics,'' especially by crack, a cocaine derivative, Mr. Delattre says.

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