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Crime and Safety, Current Trends and Issues

drug czar, city gangs, Office of National Drug Control Policy, intimate relationships, treason

Over time, the types of crimes that have been the focus of law enforcement have changed. During the 1950s, Americans worried about organized crime, treason by Communists, and vandalism by city gangs. Today they are more likely to worry about domestic violence and drugs. Domestic violence—abuse that occurs between married couples or individuals in other intimate relationships—was previously considered a private matter. Similarly, drug use was not as much of a concern in the past as it is today, when many Americans consider the sale, possession, and use of illegal drugs among the nation’s most serious problems. Annually, drug offenses rank as the largest category of criminal activity. On every level, law enforcement agencies are fighting a so-called war on drugs. This effort is led at the executive level by a presidentially appointed “drug czar,” the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The director’s main task is to coordinate national drug-fighting efforts and to draw attention to new developments, such as rising use of heroin among teenagers or the efforts of the U.S. government to control production of cocaine in Colombia.

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