03/21/10 - Victor Trevino

Harris County (Houston) Constable Victor Trevino discusses need to examine drug laws, save money, prevent jail crowding, etc. + Neill Franklin, a working Baltimore cop & new head of LEAP discusses cannabis law

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Victor Trevino
Harris County Constable


Cultural Baggage March 21, 2010

Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally un-American….. ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’ ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’ ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’ ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’

My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

Alright. This is Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network. We have Constable Victor Trevino with us. We’ll begin here in just a second.

It’s the end of Drug War as we know it
It’s the end of Drug War as we know it
It’s the end of Drug War as we know it
And I feel fine.

Alright, my friends. You know we here in, the gulag filling station as I’ve so often called it, Houston lead the world in our incarceration rate. But I have a feeling we’re fixing to change. We’re starting to see perceptions change, focus change and we’re taking a new look at this drug war and how it’s impacting our society and here to join us today is Constable Victor Trevino. He’s from Precinct 6 here in Harris County and with that I… Victor, if you will, tell us about your duties as Constable. How many people do you have oversight on?

Constable Victor Trevino: Good afternoon, Dean. Thank you very much for having me on your program. I’ve been in law enforcement for over thirty years,. Started with the Houston Police Department and I got elected to the office as Constable. There’s eight different constables elected in Harris County. Each of us represent a certain precinct. I represent Precinct 6, which is mostly in the inner city. Is the only constables office that’s really totally in the City of Houston, as far as our jurisdiction.

But constables in the history of policing, was the first official police officer, the Constable. Then came the Sheriff, then came Municipal Police Departments. But here in Texas, in Harris County, the Constables are very active. We can do civil process and also enforce criminal law. So we have patrol officers out there. Myself, in my precinct, I have approximately about seventy full-time deputies and then about twenty full-time civilians. Then I have a large group of reserves. Reserves are the same as any peace officer, except they’re volunteers. I’ve over a hundred and fifty of them.

Dean Becker: Wow, and folks you’d realize out there, Houston is a city, the megatropolis - whatever it is, is about four million people total, in and around Harris County here. Right?

Constable Victor Trevino: Correct.

Dean Becker: We have, over the years in many ways, led the Nation - led the World, in our arrest rates for drugs. It’s of late changed a bit. The DA has indicated she’s no longer going to prosecute those in possession of less than one one-hundredth of a gram of cocaine, meth or heroin, I suppose. Has that understanding been kind of handed out to the constables, to the sheriff and the police?

Constable Victor Trevino: We’re all very familiar with her decision, her opinion and something she’s looking at on a trial basis for about this first six months of this year. We still need to make sure we get the information out there to every patrol officer so that it’s appropriately understood, on their part.

I’ve been also in Houston all my life, since the late fifty’s, and seen Houston transformed into a small town city to the forth largest city in the country and I’ve also seen some of the challenges that we’ve had. From where a small amount of marijuana was a felony, serious felony that would ruin someone’s life forever. So I’ve seen the transition. I think there’s still some uncertainty out there about how to deal with this challenge.

But I’ve also seen where… You know, in the seventies, in this country, we had about two hundred and seventy thousand people locked up in prisons throughout the United States. Today, we have over two point eight million people locked up in prisons. So definitely, I think there’s room for us to see that something needs to change. I mean, you know this drug war that’s going on in Mexico where people are getting killed, innocent people.

So we’ve got some challenges here internally, in the United States. You know the budget problems, the economy. Over fifty percent, that’s what I’ve read in some studies, over fifty percent of the people in prisons, is somehow drug related. Not that they’re trafficking, I’m talking about possession, and small amounts of possession. Where people are locked up for quite some time, because of this challenge that we have; this issue that we have.

I think as a society; as a community, and I’ve been in law enforcement for over thirty years, and I think we really need to have a serious discussion. A reasonable discussion about this. Not where people just get irate and they become unreasonable.

Dean Becker: Polarized.

Constable Victor Trevino: Well, you got some people unfortunately… and sometimes, that’s what your average citizen may look at and say, ’This guys been smoking too much’ and we don’t want that to happen to the rest of society. So we need to be…

Dean Becker: So it’s…

Constable Victor Trevino: Yeah. But unfortunately, the issue doesn’t get a real conversation. It doesn’t. So we need to be reasonable about this, that there is a need to look at the situation we have now.

Dean Becker: A couple of weeks back, the local CBS affiliate did a fairly lengthy story. They started it off with an analysis of our budget shortfalls. They’re talking about Children’s Protective Services, I think, was loosing a hundred thousand dollars this coming year. That the Constables Office was loosing ten million dollars and that the Sheriff’s Office was loosing some forty million and again, this is something that has to be dealt with. As you indicated, this should help change our focus. This should give us reason to begin finding better ways. Your thought?

Constable Victor Trevino: Well, exactly. But you get an elected official or politician, you know it’s kind of like the gambling situation. The majority of Texans are going to Louisiana and Mississippi and Vegas to gamble, and yet Texas won’t entertain letting the people vote on this issue. Why do you think? Because maybe the lobbyist are paying enough money to keep it away from the voters? Because the legislatures know, that if they let the people vote on it, it’s going to pass. They know that.

Dean Becker: Right.

Constable Victor Trevino: But what is being done to the people, here in Texas is, they are not allowing their voices to be heard, because some of the folks don’t cause enough uproar. No one’s going to march to Austin and say, “We want gambling passed! We want gambling!”…

Dean Becker: {chuckling} Right, right.

Constable Victor Trevino: …and the same thing with the drug laws. You’re not going to have tens of thousands of people marching to the Capitol saying, “We want marijuana legalized!” You’re not really going to have that kind of uproar.

Dean Becker: Right.

Constable Victor Trevino: So how’re you going to get an elected official, to really look at changes. It’s going to have to come from the grassroots, up.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: You got to start that movement.

Dean Becker: Well Victor, I want to say this, what you’re presenting here, is what I’ve been working towards. Is to encourage people to contact their elected officials, to share their feelings, their understanding with them. Because in so doing, they un-cuff; they untie the hands of those officials. Go ahead.

Constable Victor Trevino: Well, I mean, look. Look what’s happening with this Health Care bill. You’ve got thousands of people out there protesting in Washington D.C. Their voices are being heard. There’s a lot of elected officials that are concerned about the election in November. They’re really worried. My opinion, I think it’s going to pass, regardless of those protesters.

Dean Becker: Right.

Constable Victor Trevino: But still, voices are being heard out there. They’re expressing themselves. That is the American way. Whether we like it or not, whether we agree or not. The same thing, we’re going to make changes, not just in the State of Texas but, throughout this country. It’s got to start from a grassroots movement, upwards, where all these voices are heard. Because the logic is there, the changes need to happen.

Dean Becker: Right.

Constable Victor Trevino: Any reasonable person can see that. There’s too much money being spent to incarcerate people, the judicial process involved.

Dean Becker: This is not to point fingers or… other than to just talk about the hypocrisies sometimes, that is involved in this. Our former District Attorney, Mr. Rosenthal, had been a drug warrior. He was locking people up for any and every amount of drugs. He was sending them off to prison and yet, when the time came and he got caught in email fraud, I guess it was, but he resigned stating that he was retiring because of his ongoing dependence on drugs, and it just seemed to me that… It hurt my heart to think of all these thousands of people that got sent to prison, probably for less drugs than what our district attorney was involved in. I don’t know.

Constable Victor Trevino: But I think also, Dean, the fact that in this country or maybe in this world, as long as we’re human beings, hypocrisy’s going to exist. Again, whether we like it or not…

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: …and maybe even all of us as individuals sometime we may be hypocritical, whether we realize it or not, whether it happens innocently or not. But even in government. I mean, you could look at the hypocrisy because you go back in time and you look at whether… you know, actually believe that… we did certain things at certain times and now we’re still looking at issues. Whether some people may say this debate about the healthcare, but what is it really about? Is it really because we have difference of opinion or is it, we want to make sure this administration does not succeed? We want to make sure that this…

Dean Becker: Falls on their face.

Constable Victor Trevino: Well, I don’t know, I don’t. But I think it’s reasonable to say. Because while we’re saying we’ve got to compromise, the American people are looking at those folks in Washington and say, ’All they do is fight with each other. We ought to replace all of them.’ People are getting…

Dean Becker: Well, I’m for that.

Constable Victor Trevino: Well… that’s what some studies are saying…

Dean Becker: Yeah

Constable Victor Trevino: …and that’s why politics has a bad image. That’s why some people will say, ‘Don’t talk about religion and don’t talk about politics, if you don’t want to start some kind of ruckus here, now.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: But of course, I disagree. I think we do need to talk about it as long as people act reasonable. I mean the folks that don’t act reasonable… you know. Yesterday, if it true, in the halls of Congress or outside, the protesters yelling racial slurs to some of the African-American Congress people, someone spitting at somebody.

That’s not what the First Amendment says and that’s not what we should tolerate. Those kind of people, they shouldn’t be allowed out there protesting. But you see, that’s what I’m talking about. That’s where you draw the line.

Dean Becker: Yeah, yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: I mean, we already had a Civil War in this country.

Dean Becker: Right.

Constable Victor Trevino: I mean, to have into today’s time, these kind of people. Well, that’s why I’m saying about the drug situation. If we can have reasonable conversations and we take this message out to the Civic Clubs, to the Grassroots Community. Why should we tell them that they need to lobby their legislatures, to change this law? How would it benefit the local community?

Dean Becker: Yeah. Well, I want to talk about relative dangers, if you will. People talk about the relative dangers of these hard drugs. They’re always trying to compare marijuana to alcohol and too many people seem to think that marijuana is as strong at incapacitating a person. That it somehow lead you to driving recklessly down the road at eighty miles an hour without knowing… Go ahead, sir.

Constable Victor Trevino: Well, we’re talking about alcohol.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: I mean, it’s the number one killer in this country.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: But we’ve accepted it. We’ve accepted it. There’s no law that you can pass that’s going to really… and no law has, minimized the dangers of drinking and driving.

Dean Becker: Right.

Constable Victor Trevino: No law has minimized the dangers of domestic violence caused by alcohol.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: There’s no laws that can minimize the dangers that it would cause the human body. There’s no laws. But we’ve accepted that as collateral damage, as a society.

Dean Becker: Yes.

Constable Victor Trevino: So I believe that the challenges that we’re going to see as far as saying we’re going to legalize another drug besides alcohol, that can… So people are concerned that now you’re going to double this collateral damage.

Dean Becker: Right;

Constable Victor Trevino: So is that scaring people or what can we do to show people that it’s really going to help the economy. It’s because the government can, I guess, tax it and we’ll build up more revenue. Instead of taxing the peoples income, you tax their vice. Like we’ve done with alcohol and cigarettes.

Dean Becker: Correct.

Constable Victor Trevino: It’s going to stop the drug wars. Because you’re not going to have a turf on every block in certain communities, because it’s legalized. The killing in Mexico, maybe things would get better in Mexico because we don’t have to worry about the cartels killing each other. Is that really going to be the message that we send out there?

Dean Becker: Right. We’re speaking with Constable Victor Trevino, here in Houston. Victor, in your thirty plus years experience in all the deputies you have out there, the constables you have out there under your surveillance, they deal with drunks; disturbances at residences and so forth, that… I guess my question Sir is, I would think that you and they would much prefer to go deal with somebody that’s been smoking pot, rather than somebody who’s belligerent and drunk. Your thoughts on that?

Constable Victor Trevino: Well I would think any peace officer would rather deal with someone that’s more subtle, more cooperative and not combative.

Dean Becker: Right.

Constable Victor Trevino: It’s always a danger to the officer and even that person. I don’t think any police officer wants to harm an individual that’s just resisting, for the sake of harming them. But I think that it is just a matter of defense. If you have to use another kind of force besides trying to physically restrain someone, then it becomes more challenging.

Dean Becker: Right.

Constable Victor Trevino: Whether you have the taser gun, or the baton and in some case you might have to use deadly force, depending on the circumstances. I’ve seen where we’ve had cases where someone has a machete. Not too long ago, I mean… well, you’ve got those challenges and I would think any time an officer is faced with that. Now whether it’s the choice about whether someone is under the influence of marijuana or alcohol? I don’t know if I can answer that specifically because I don’t know to say that some person that’s under the influence of marijuana is necessarily… I haven’t seen that kind of study or comparison…

Dean Becker: Alright.

Constable Victor Trevino: …to tell you. I see where your question is. You might think that sounds something that might be the case. Someone who’s under the influence of marijuana’s going to be more subtle, more calmer. But I don’t know that for a fact.

Dean Becker: Fair enough, fair enough. The same CBS piece brought me to meet with you; invite you on the radio show. As I said, I’ve got the Sheriff coming on next week to this same show. Hope to have the District Attorney in perhaps the following week and I’m talking to the County Commissioner, Mr. Ed Emmett…

Constable Victor Trevino: County Judge.

Dean Becker: County Judge. Yes, sir… in that same regard and I guess what I’m really hoping is… You’ve heard from some constituents. You’ve heard from me and others about this drug war. You certainly have an understanding and are willing to talk about it and I guess what I’m hoping is, is that through these sets of interviews and hopefully the listeners’, out there, willingness to contact these same elected officials and share your thoughts in this regard, that what eventually needs to happen.

Because here in Texas, we don’t have the right to a ballot initiative. We don’t have the chance to put forward our ideas of how our laws should change. So it’s necessary that our legislators change their perspective as well, and I think responses from you, the Sheriff and the DA could help… Go ahead, sir.

Constable Victor Trevino: But some people would say we do, because we elect our state representative, our state senators.

Dean Becker: Um-hmm.

Constable Victor Trevino: So if you elect someone that believes in your philosophy and that is ‘the Will of the People‘, than that representative must make sure that the ‘Will of the People’ is heard in Austin, or in Washington D.C.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: So we do have that. But, is that the mandate that someone is elected by? That is a state rep. or a state senator, or if you wanted to look at nationally, your congressman. Is that the mandate of the people that you go to Washington (D.C.) or you go to Austin and you change this law?

Dean Becker: Alright. But you know there was one of those surveys done… Zogby did. It was about four years ago and they polled the people of Texas. They came up with seventy-five percent, in favor of Medical Marijuana and when I meet with these state reps and so forth, behind closed doors they’ll agree with me. That is probably a good idea but yet, I can’t be the one to present the bill…

Constable Victor Trevino: When someone is campaigning and the people demand that we’re going to ‘vote for you’ because you’re going to change this law and make the use of Medical Marijuana legal, that’s got to be clear and cut. It can’t be just a poll where people don’t come out. It’s like the gambling problem. People will vote for it. But they don’t want to go and voice their opinion.

You know what it is? It’s the people feel, kind of, either embarrassed or they feel that they’re going to be stereotyped. ‘Oh!’ You now, it’s like if they go to a casino and no one’s going to see them. “Sure, I support gambling. But I’m also an elected official, and for me to be just the one that carry this…” is not enough for that elected official.

Dean Becker: Right

Constable Victor Trevino: We need the voice of the people. But somehow people feel like there’s a guilt trip. ‘If I’m going to support marijuana being legalized, what’s people going to say about me? Are they going to start judging me? Are they going to think something’s wrong with me?’

Dean Becker: That I’m using?

Constable Victor Trevino: Yes, yes. All of the above and that’s, I think, what’s keeping this movement from really coming forth, to a vote.

Dean Becker: Alright.

Constable Victor Trevino: Whether in Austin or in Washington.

Dean Becker: Yeah. Well you know Victor, the one thing I think is coming in focus here, is that all across this Nation, City and State Governments are faltering. They are in need of help. They are in need of changing some of their processes to save some money; to realign those efforts; to actually take care of the requirements, the people that are violent; the people that mean us harm. Rather than focusing on those that displeased us. Because of what’s in their pocket. You go ahead.

Constable Victor Trevino: Well, there’s another confusion involved. You see you have the mentally challenged folks that in this country, we really don’t address appropriately. So you’ve got let’s say, maybe fifty percent of people in prison that deserve to be in some kind of mental facility. To be addressed and it’s not. So the same issue applies to your general population.

So, what people fear is, if someone already has a mental challenge and they’re using marijuana, they associate it as marijuana being the problem and not the fact that this person already has a mental challenge.

Dean Becker: Sure.

Constable Victor Trevino: So that’s confusing to some folks and I can see why. I see the logic there. But I’ve got to tell you that, I applaud you and the efforts to have this conversation and I’m also glad to hear that other elected officials are willing to at least talk about it and not feel that they’re going to be put on the spot, or at least not be reasonable in having this conversation.

Dean Becker: Alright.

Constable Victor Trevino: What we disagree and we may. We have our own opinions and that’s OK. That’s the American way. But as long as we respect each other as far as human beings, and we do it and I think than, that’s what the American people and the people of Texas here, want to see. They don’t want to see what’s happening in Washington. That really turns people off, that there’s such a disengagement out there…

Dean Becker: Oh, yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: …of the political process and it’s a mockery when you start using racial tones or people start… You can raise your voice. But when you start being malicious about how you act, then that’s Civil Disorder and no one should thing that that won’t trigger a catalyst, for what already occurred in this country once, is a Civil War and we don’t need that. We don’t need people to not act reasonably, ‘cause that’s not what this country’s about.

So I think having more individuals, like you named. I applaud our District Attorney for taking a stand and the fact that she’s republican. You would think, some people think republicans, ‘They don’t do this!‘. I think it’s reasonable on her part to say, ‘We need to look at this. We got a problem in the jail. The county jail is overcrowded, it’s overloaded. We don’t have the money.’

But we know one more thing that’s so important? Is that, we’re ruining people lives, that should have an opportunity. For their future not to be ruined, just because they got arrested for this. So, I applaud you for that.

Dean Becker: Well, thank you. Folks, we’re speaking with Constable Victor Trevino, here in Houston and I want to just… Look the point to me is we have for years, tried to open this discussion and the fact that we are now beginning to actually pry it open a bit here, in Houston, gives me a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment in that, the time is here. The time is now, to actually do something better to find that better process by which we can all benefit. Right, Victor?

Constable Victor Trevino: Oh, definitely. Again, I spent thirteen years as a Houston police officer and right now, I’m in my twenty second year as Constable of Precinct 6 and either being a seasoned officer that has seen a lot of experience there I’ve always felt, though this has always been my position, that we need to have a reasonable conversation about this challenge…

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Constable Victor Trevino: …about the drug problem. Because I have seen it even ruin communities out there and I have seen it also used as a way for people to label and stereotype people.

Dean Becker: Right.

Constable Victor Trevino: So it’s not just the one issue. It’s very complicated and I think we need to have again, an open conversation about it so that we can make some reasonable recommendations.

Dean Becker: Well Victor Trevino, I thank you once again for being our guest. I’m hoping that we’ll keep the door open. We can do this again in the future and…

Constable Victor Trevino: Whenever you want, Dean. Thank you very much for having this conversation and I’m very open to doing it again.

Dean Becker: You bet we will, sir. Alright. Once again, Victor Trevino, Constable here in Harris County and now you’ll get a chance to ‘Name That Drug - By it’s side effects!’

It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By It’s Side Effects!"

Constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, nervousness, sexual side effects, sleepiness, sweating, weakness, agitation, irritability, hostility, impulsiveness, restlessness, high blood pressure, depression and suicide.


Time's up! The answer: From Wyatt Pharmaceutical for depression:

Effexor XR

Speaking before a hearing in the State of Maryland, about the portended use of marijuana, this is the newly elected Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a working Maryland cop, Neill Franklin.

Well, I spent most of my career either in narcotics enforcement or criminal enforcement and right now Maryland recognizes that there is medical use from marijuana, cancer patients and many other ailments that we had. The bottom line with us is - cops become cops, because they are compassionate folks and they want to do good things for people. Not a cop out here thinks that we should be putting patients in prison.

The current law, here in Maryland - which was enacted in 2003, only addresses the punishment side of this issue. Cops are still under pressure to arrest anyone for possession of marijuana, whether you’re a patient or not and the maximum fine is only a hundred dollars. We have steeper fines for traffic violations. But yet we don’t put people in jail for speeding.

Interviewer: Is it a waste of time to arrest a patient taking Marijuana for medical purposes?

Neill Franklin: Oh, absolutely. It’s a waste of time and more importantly for the patient. For the benefit of the patient. Right now, because it’s illegal for them to obtain marijuana in the State of Maryland, they have to go into some very dangerous neighborhoods. It’s dangerous for them to go in there and obtain the marijuana. In addition, not just physically dangerous, but the marijuana itself is dangerous because there’s no regulation and control over the standards.

Interviewer: You eluded to the fact that no cop wants to arrest a patient. In talking to your former fellow law enforcement officers, how do they feel about this? I mean, can you gage opinions or would you say most police officers, at least the ones you know, are in favor of this or…

Neill Franklin: Well I think a big statement is that, when the House bill was heard a week or two ago, is that there was no opposition from Law Enforcement. That says a lot and when you speak to the cops on the street, especially when you’re just sitting down having a cup of coffee, they see that this is right. This is the right way to go.

Alright, my friends. I hope you enjoyed our discussion with Constable Victor Trevino. I want to thank him for opening the door for us, if you will. Cracking that window open. Allowing us to begin discussing, the need for change.

The D.A. has begun the process, I’ll say incrementally, if you will. I find incrementalism to be a killer, at least long term it is. But that’s what we’re stuck with.

I hope you guys will get in touch with your elected officials, wherever you are across this country and do your part. Become a full citizen. Do the things necessary. Alert these officials to your understanding, your knowledge, your awareness of what this problem has done and that you want it to change.

We’re out of time so once again I remind you, that because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Tap dancing on the edge on an abyss.

Submitted by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org