Police work deals with human nature, which is always changing and, therefore, constantly poses new challenges for the law enforcement officer. The skills learned in basic police training are just that — basic. Officers must seek continual training to keep up with their criminal counterparts.
The investigation of crimes such as burglary, homicide, and rape has undergone changes over the years, but not to the extent that drug enforcement has. Enforcing drug violations is proactive and can require the use of undercover operatives, which makes it unique and casts this mode of investigation into a class of its own. Drug enforcement therefore requires extensive and ongoing training.
When I first began my 11-year career in drug enforcement, all I had to base my decision on was the portrayal of undercover police agents in the movies and on television. The realization came quickly that the actual duties of a drug enforcement agent are much different from those portrayed by Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
For me, the initial learning process was somewhat slow, because the only actual investigative training I received was by accompanying more experienced agents on drug buys, surveillances, and raids. Investigative skills were learned through trial and error. In those early days many drug-buy techniques were untried and untested, and often they were attempted by drug agents working alone.
One does not have to be a narcotics agent to see the impact of drug use and trafficking on society. Law enforcement officers working in all aspects of police work witness, on a daily basis, an array of crimes directly associated with the illicit use of dangerous drugs. Many lose their lives. A basic understanding is therefore necessary in combatting the drug problem, which involves all law enforcement officers in all jurisdictions.
It has been no easy task preparing a text that would be of wide interest to law enforcement officers operating in many different jurisdictions. For example, while researching this book, I spoke with a narcotics agent in Florida who advised me that the only cocaine cases his agency would authorize him to work on were those involving quantities of 10 kilograms or more. I later spoke with a narcotics agent in Kansas who said that a one-ounce cocaine dealer in his jurisdiction is considered a significant violator.