The Woodstock Music & Arts Festival took place in 1969 on the famous property known as Max Yasgur's farm, which was part of the rolling hillsides of the Hudson Valley. Almost 46 years later, the same farmland is now known as the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Over this past Memorial Day weekend, a festival called Mysteryland USA brought a new generation of music lovers to the grounds. The crowd was much smaller than in 1969; the weather was too cold for many to camp out, and some of the revelers ended up with felony drug charges lodged against them by the New York State Police.
Drug dragnets are a good public relations tool for local law enforcement authorities, but whether they bring about a lasting reduction in drug trafficking activities in the particular locality is highly questionable due to decades of experience indicating just the opposite. Recently, a drug sweep by New York authorities resulted in 21 arrests on drug charges in the Tompkins County area. Several state agencies joined with the Tompkins County Sheriff's office in conducting the investigation and the sweep.
Authorities rounded up 22 persons recently in the Albany area and charged them with over 150 drug counts. The defendants, who range in age from 16 to 45, face drug charges connected to the activities of a drug ring that allegedly sold cocaine and heroin in Albany County and several nearby counties. The sweep was coordinated by the New York Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF).
Accessories in the criminal law are accused of aiding someone in the commission of a crime but only before or after the crime was committed. A criminal defendant can be accused of being an accessory to drug charges. This was illustrated by the recent arrest by New York State Police of a man for the felony of hindering the prosecution of another man who was being sought on a felony drug possession charge.
It is always important for defense counsel in New York to investigate closely the procedures used by police in making drug and contraband arrests in the aftermath of routine traffic stops. State and federal constitutional principles regarding search and seizure are important in that context. There may actually be little chance of finding and proving police irregularities in many traffic stop cases involving drug charges. However, the inquiry should nonetheless be made because there are always at least a small percentage of cases that are dismissed due to poor or improper police procedures.
New York State Police on Feb. 20 arrested two Broome County residents who were found in a parked car that police allege contained a number of drugs and paraphernalia. The car was parked suspiciously in a lot in Johnson City, according to a state police spokesperson. A trooper stopped to investigate the parked vehicle, which led to numerous drug charges against the man and woman found in the vehicle.
Law enforcement officers are human, and as such, they may encounter the same kinds of human problems and weaknesses as other members of society. It is not unusual to hear that assault and domestic violence charges have been brought against a police officer due to incidents in his or her personal life. While it's not an unusual event, an officer who is arrested for domestic violence in New York and elsewhere will possibly pay a severe price for the transgression, depending on the severity of the facts.
The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act is a bill that was introduced in 2011 and is still being debated in the New York legislature. The Act recognizes that a major path to incarceration for many women is through the violence cycles of domestic abuse. Many women have ended up in prison after saying no to continuing acts of domestic violence by a spouse or domestic partner.
Reports of missing children sometimes turn out to be bogus. In upstate New York, Albany County authorities say that they received a report from a 19-year-old female that her five-year-old cousin was taken forcefully from her by two masked men on Dec. 18. Police deemed the report false after a K-9 unit found the child dead under a nearby pile of snow. The woman's arrest for second degree murder may carry allegations of some kind of domestic violence inflicted on the boy to cause his death.
In New York state as well as elsewhere, drug sweeps are generally good for increasing public relations between the community and the police departments involved. However, whether they have an impact on the volume of drug operations is usually difficult to measure. Furthermore, there has generally been no evidence offered that the demand for drugs goes down in the aftermath of mass sweeps resulting in hundreds of drug charges and dozens of arrests. That fact begs the question whether the raids are worth the substantial public resources invested, both in terms of the burgeoning costs of law enforcement and the drain on court operations.