Bianca Hervey, a 20-year-old student at GCC and former Batavia resident, was put in an awkward, and potentially dangerous, situation by the Attica Police Department recently, according to the Buffalo News.
Hervey, who's only apparent criminal record is a traffic ticket or two, and who was not known to police as a drug user, was apparently coerced into becoming a snitch -- going undercover to help catch drug dealers.
Now, there is little disagreement that illegal drug dealing is a bad thing, but the News rightly editorializes against the Village of Attica Police Department for employing tactics that sound much like those used by the Stasi, the East German Secret Police.
... the apparent drafting of a neophyte drug informant is not only cruel behavior, it is astoundingly bad police work. If the relevant officials are unwilling to strongly renounce what could have been an anomalous misstep in an otherwise professionally run operation, then their own professional judgment must be called into serious question.
The idea that law enforcement officers chasing drug dealers can do absolutely anything they want is itself a kind of drug, one that is as addictive and as destructive of society as any amount of heroin or cocaine.
Hervey was saved the fate of entering an underground world she knows nothing about because her attorney father was able to intervene, but the News reports an unnamed young man was not so fortunate, and now he fears for his safety.
Officer Christopher Graham, who is also the officer accused of trying to recruit Hervey into undercover work, reportedly told the young man that the minor charges against him could keep him out of the military. He offered the youth a way out -- help catch a drug dealer. The young man followed through, according to the News, but when the police asked him to get involved in a second drug deal, the informant refused to cooperate. A short time later, he was arrested for failure to appear on the original charges.
Informants are used by law enforcement all the time. It was an informant that helped local law enforcement break up an apparent meth ring here in Genesee County last week. But reliable informants are usually people who step forward on their own because they know something, or are people recruited from the drug world they already know.
It seems to smack of incredibly poor judgment and an abuse of power to try and recruit informants from among young people who have little experience either in the drug world or in dealing with the criminal justice system. We trust our local law enforcement officers use better judgment.