07/22/18 Deborah Kafoury

Century of Lies
Deborah Kafoury
Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion

This week on Century of Lies, we hear a discussion about human rights in the Philippines and the brutal campaign of terror and murder being carried out by Philippine police under the orders of that nation's dictator, Rodrigo Duterte; plus, we discuss the implementation of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion in Portland, Oregon, with Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury and Karen Kern with Portland's Central City Concern.

Audio file



JULY 22, 2018

DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors, and millions more now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century Of Lies.

DOUG MCVAY: Welcome to Century Of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of

On July 16, the organization Stop The Drug War / Drug Reform Coalition Network held a side event at the UN's high level political forum on sustainable development. It was titled Human Rights Challenge: Judicial and Extrajudicial Drug War Killings, In A Time of Authoritarianism.

Not surprisingly, there was quite a lot of talk about the Philippines, where a murderous campaign against the poor and disenfranchised has been waged by that nation's dictator, Rodrigo Duterte. Thousands and thousands of people have been murdered senselessly, needlessly, by the police and by vigilante death squads in the Philippines under the guise of a war on drugs.

One of the people at this forum, who appeared via Skype, was Justine Balane. Justine is a representative of Akbayan Youth, which is a democratic socialist youth and students formation that works for the realization of good governments and transformative politics.

They're a youth wing of the Akbayan Citizens' Action Party. More than being a youth wing of its mother party, Akbayan Youth is an independent and autonomous left democratic socialist and feminist youth movement in the Philippines working for freedom, equality, and solidarity all over the world. Now let's hear from Justine.

JUSTINE BALANE: Hello, again I'm Justine from Akbayan Youth in the Philippines, and I'm also the ambassador for Students for Sensible Drug Policy in the Philippines. And, I'm going to share about the, how the endless drug war undermines democracy in my country, and how teens and children are paying the cost of the drug war.

The week that the Philippine government congratulated the Thai government and celebrated the rescue of the Thai boys trapped in a cave, was the week when the government's deadly campaign against drugs killed a four year old boy in Cebu City in the Philippines.

The four year old boy was named Skyler Abatayo. He was just learning how to ride his moped, when he was killed by a stray bullet that pierced through his heart. But he was in the wrong place. He was caught in a crossfire in a government operation [inaudible] suspected of drugs.

These deaths, including Abatayo, are ironic, as Duterte's early campaign was much touted to be in protection for children, the future generation, against what Duterte and his allies have called the drug menace. But, reports say that 74 minors have already been killed in police operations and vigilante style attacks.

According to the data from Philippine-based Children's Legal Rights and Development Center, these minors were killed, either targeted in police operations, or either killed in vigilante style killings or caught in a crossfire during deadly drug operations.

The stories include 12-year old Kristine Joy Sailog, who was just attending mass with her father when she was -- when she ws shot. Four year old Althea Barbon, whose father was a drug suspect who was shot in the back during a police operation. As his father was speeding away from the police, she was on the motorcycle and she was unfortunately shot.

There was two minors in Mindanao. Mindanao is a depressed area in the southern Philippines. One was an infant and another was a teenager, and they were killed on May 27. President Duterte has talked about these deaths, especially about minors and children, as collateral damages in his drug war narrative.

Now, I think it's important to stress that President Duterte will have his state of the nation address on July 25. His war on drugs then will enter its third year, but the public continues to be haunted.

The program called, the hashtag #RealNumbersPH, where they show the -- what they say are accurate government data, but in which particulars are different from what they show in the media operations and what is reported by human rights groups.

But, several journalists have criticized these government data because some of the terms and numbers were adjusted so that the killings that happened in police operations could be significantly reduced, and so these government data rely so much on semantics in order to cleanse and sanitize this drug war.

But, different academic organizations and universities have come up with a project to study and analyze trends and patterns to the drug war. They released this last month, on June 25. It's called the Drug Archive Philippines, and it's a project at the De La Salle University, Ateneo Manilla University, University of the Philippines, and Columbia University and its school of journalism, and was a project that studied and analyzed trends and patterns from police reports involving drug war killings, and one of the theories that have been highlighted in this report was that government drug war operations may have involved vigilantes.

So, in this report, they are observing the killings arising from police operations, and killings arising from vigilante style incidents, surge in drug cases at the same time depending on pronouncements under the Duterte administration. So among the cases that have been cited was in July 2017, after the death of a foreign businessman named Jee Ick-Joo in a drug related case. The drug war of the Philippine government was suspended for a time, and the cases of deaths from police operations and from vigilante style killings went down too.

In March in this year, when the drug war was reactivated, it surged again on the next day. So, this, you see, highlights how the suspicions of some groups that government operations may involve vigilante style killings, and it was these vigilante style killings that rendered up headlines in the world all over where people are brutally killed, some are wrapped in plastic, sometimes they're wrapped in duct tape and they have different wounds, but signs that are left for them are cardboard pieces, cardboards where it says "I am a drug pusher, don't be like me."

Some developments. The Supreme Court has demanded an explanation from the Philippine government on the thousands of deaths involving the drug war. But this was before the chief justice was ousted.

So according to the Supreme Court, basically, it's asking the government for data on the drug war, explaining why there have been an average of 39.46 deaths every day from July 1, 2016, to November 7, 2017. This was according to Supreme Court a total of 20,822 deaths.

Despite all these cases, people are already fighting back. President Duterte's job satisfaction ratings have dropped, according to social survey based before the state of the nation address. They're doing, civil society organizations, human rights organizations, are basically reforming government policies.

This month, we have invited local government leaders to take and train them into a harm reduction approach. So the related issues in their community, signing them away from the approach that the Duterte administration is promoting. Meanwhile, people suspected of pushing or using drugs, our organizations have also provided families affected by the drug war, interventions in terms of giving them psychosocial help, giving them legal help, in order to obtain justice for cases.

And at the same time, we have been mobilizing and organizing our young people to be aware of human rights, and at the same time, be more aware of the drug war killings that have been happening here in the Philippines.

So, those are some of the cases and progress that has been happening here in the Philippines. But, goes to show that the drug war really undermines democracy.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Justine Balane from Akbayan Youth. He was speaking at an event on July 16, a side event at the UN's high level political forum on sustainable development. The event was organized by DRCNet and Stop The Drug War. It was titled Human Rights Challenge: Judicial and Extrajudicial Drug War Killings In A Time of Authoritarianism.

One of the people in attendance at that panel was Levi Bautista. The Reverend Doctor Levi Bautista is assistant general secretary for United Nations Ministry in Church & Society of the United Methodist Church. He's headquartered at the UN Office for the Church Center for the United Nations in New York. Let's hear from Doctor Bautista.

THE REVEREND DOCTOR LEVI BAUTISTA: Hi, I'm Levi Bautista, I'm with the Center United Methodist Church at the United Nations. Thank you very much for the speakers. I think, as a church person, let me put some context.

In the last six months, an Episcopal Anglican relate bishop was detained by the Duterte government. Two Roman Catholic priests were executed at the point of full -- at the time when they were preparing for mass. Three United Methodist missionaries were expelled by the Duterte government.

Just about a few days ago, a missionary, United Methodist missionary from Malawi, three of them assigned in Mindanao, at the InPeace, which is an organization related with the peace process.

I think part of the context of the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines must be taken up, which is the criminalization of poverty and the criminalization of political acts. In other words, there is in fact an ongoing insurgency in the Philippines, and the drug war provides for a cover for political killings.

And I think that should not be forgotten. That in fact, the assault on the poor is an assault on the base of political organizing, and therefore, the pretext for the killing of many of the poor people, being people who are drug addicts or related to the drug trade, is a pretext for quashing, decimating a base for political organizing within a democratic process in the Philippines.

So, but the larger context of that is that the democratic institutions have been so decimated, going way back to the Marcos dictatorship, and therefore, the assault on the judiciary and the legislature, the cooptation of both institutions by the executive, the Duterte government, has rendered -- has therefore impaired, I should say, political dissent.

And so, extrajudicial killing depends on arbitrary arrest and detention, are not just on the rise but have been steadily happening even all the way back to martial law.

The fourth item I think that should not be forgotten is the patronage of the US government of the Philippine government, and that connects Mister Duterte with Mister Trump, the two administrations, and -- we need to connect, for example, this discussion, the high level political forum, perhaps, with the Agenda 2030, which should be -- and in relation to the US government, the US support for what is called the Millennium Fund, Millennium Challenge Fund, and the support for the military in the Philippines must be attached.

Lastly I think what's important for our resource persons to mention the situation of Mindanao, and why martial law in Mindanao. Martial law in Mindanao provides for the context of what Mister Duterte wants the Philippine constitution to be changed to. To change the republic into a federal government.

So the federalization of the Philippines provides for an easy control of political and economic warlords of specific territories, Mindanao being Mister Duterte's area.

So, those should not be lost in the conversation, albeit we're zeroing in on the drug war, the context, the economic and political context of the Philippines, and its -- and the complicity of the US with its economy and with its politics, should be -- should always be taken in consideration. Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was the Reverend Doctor Levi Bautista, assistant general secretary for United Nations ministry, with Church and Society of the United Methodist Church. Many thanks to DRCNet for livestreaming this event. You can see the entire thing at the Stop The Drug War facebook page, or you can also stop by their website at

You are listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of

From the international to the local, let's take a look at Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion in the United States.

Speaking with Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Karen Kern, who's the Senior Director of Substance Use Disorder Services at Central City Concern. We're talking about the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion that's here in Multnomah County, it's a national thing and we have one of the operating programs.

Just to start, for the benefit of the listener, could you please tell me how Law -- what is Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion about?

DEBORAH KAFOURY: Sure, I'll start that off, and then Karen I'm sure has a lot more detail to the -- how the program's working. Really the idea behind this is that we, the local community here in Multnomah County, didn't want to reinvent the wheel. We really tried to look around the country at other best practices and see where people have programs that are successful in helping people in their community, and this was one of those programs we found in King County, just our neighbors right to the north.

And, the way it works is law enforcement, who are out patrolling the streets of our town on a daily basis, come across people that they see over and over again, the same person. They see Jim on the corner, they see Sally under the bridge, the same folks, and they get a relationship with them. They get to know them and they want to be able to offer them something else besides a trip to the jail.

And, they know that giving somebody a trip to the jail just is going to turn around, they'll be right back out on the street again, soon, not actually addressing the reasons that they're in the situations that they're in.

So, through the LEAD program, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, law enforcement has another tool. They can ask people if they want to be a part of a program that is administered by Central City Concern where people get the services that they need. They have access to drug and alcohol counseling, they have access to housing, they have access to mental health treatment. They have access to a friend.

And that has shown through the other communities where this program exists that it's successful.

DOUG MCVAY: Karen, on an operational level, I mean, you administer the program so what does it look like from the ground, I guess.

KAREN KERN: Yes, so, there are two ways to get into LEAD. We have the arrest diversion process, which is officers come across somebody that is currently at risk for arrest for possession of a controlled substance, and then we also have the social contact or social referral method, where people can refer individuals who are -- either have been arrested in the past for PCS or are at risk for arrest in the future, and are using substances illegally.

And so, the arrest diversion, how it works is the officers encounter an individual on the street who is in the process of breaking the law with a PCS offense, and they offer the individual the LEAD program. It is a voluntary program and it is a harm reduction program, so the only thing that the individual needs to say if they're interested is yes, I'm interested.

And they contact our screening and outreach coordinator, who is able to then meet them either on the corner or at the precinct, or wherever is comfortable, and they do a warm hand-off at that point officer to case manager. And then the case manager picks up from there and does a screen, makes sure that the individual is actually interested in the program, explains how it works, and then assigns them to a case manager.

And then, we do outreach to that person to, and the next 30 days or so continuously until we can find them again and get them assessed, to try to figure out what some of the issues they may want to work on are, and then it's really up to that individual to put together a plan.

It's a self-directed plan, so instead of many treatment programs, where somebody is, you know, enrolled into a program and prescribed a treatment plan, this program is truly harm reduction and all we ask is that they complete the assessment and then continue to work with us. And then they get to set the plan goals themselves.

DOUG MCVAY: So -- the only problem -- I'm a data guy, so, do you have some -- the program's been in operation for about a year now, I guess, roughly, I mean, it was, we spoke about it back in March of 2017, and it was just about to get underway. So, you've had at least several months. What kind of numbers are you looking at, how many folks -- how many folks are involved in the program, how many contacts have they made? Yeah. Give me some numbers.

KAREN KERN: Yeah, absolutely. So, we have currently as of today 117 clients enrolled in the program. We have, I would say, it's about 48 percent arrest referrals and 52 percent social contact referrals, and that number just fluctuates based on who the officers encounter and want to refer in.

We have met over -- a total of over about 2,500 individual needs in the amount of time that we've been running, and we have actually a pretty good track record of meeting needs that were identified by individuals.

So, for example, a lot of people that we encounter need physical health needs, or medical needs, they haven't been engaged with primary care or enrolled even in primary care, and often have chronic medical conditions that are not being taken care of. So, usually that's one of the first needs that they identify as wanting help with. And we're at 93 percent in assisting people getting their medical needs met.

In addition, housing, the majority of the clients in our program are coming to us with chronic homelessness. Street homeless, not just unstably housed. And we have currently 23 percent of those people in -- engaged in housing services.

We have also, let's see, what else can I say? We've got multiple people not just housed but also working in completed treatment programs for substance use disorders, sober, and people who tried different programs in the past and just, you know, nothing really was working for them.

So, just the approach, I think, of this program and again, it being a harm reduction approach and really be self-directed by the client, the relationship that's built with the case manager, that's not pressured, like you have to do this, really works in our favor in terms of building that engagement and trust, and then people just saying, yeah, I really want help with this, how can you help me?

DOUG MCVAY: Just to -- so, social contact referrals, that's, you said 42 percent? Was that -- ?

KAREN KERN: It's actually about 52 percent social contact and 48 percent arrest diversion, currently, but that number fluctuates, just based on who the officers encounter in the course of their day. We just enrolled an arrest referral today.

DOUG MCVAY: Okeh, so 52 percent, that's -- that was actually one of my questions, because of course the two different routes, the arrest pre-booking is -- how do we say it? There's still an arrest happening, so they're still making that kind of connection, but the idea of doing the social contact referral.

I -- well, that leads into the -- that leads into another thing, because, LEAD National Bureau's document outlining the core principles for policing says that forcing people to rely on arrest as the sole means of referral can be counterproductive and can delay engagement. Officers who become accustomed to using LEAD may eventually come to regard arrest as a strategy of last resort for low-level drug offenses and offenses related behavioral health conditions and/or poverty.

So, can either of you speak to how -- see, I see LEAD as being a positive thing because it may help with a cultural change within law enforcement, so that they -- so that arrest does become the last resort, especially when you're dealing with these, the low-level drug offenses and offenses that relate to behavioral health conditions and that relate to poverty. That's -- could either of you speak to that sort of, that sort of culture change thing?

DEBORAH KAFOURY: Sure, I can start. For me personally this was one of the reasons that I was interested in the program in the first place. In this particular program, I think that there's -- there was a desire when we were first looking at LEAD, a question of whether we needed to have the law enforcement angle. Couldn't we just have case workers who are out walking the streets encountering people and saying, hey, come into this program?

But that actually, that's the highlight for me of this program, is it gives law enforcement an additional tool that they didn't have before, and it allows them to see success. I recently sat through an operations meeting with case workers from Central City, law enforcement, folks from the DA's office, and some of our national partners who were here to look at the program, and listening to the conversation about individuals, they were talking about an individual, whether the program would be right for them, whether they should stay in the program.

And, it was really, I just felt so warmed by the conversation, where they were talking about a certain individual, and the officer said I never thought I would see her clean and sober, I never thought I would see her -- I thought I would, next time I would see her I would, or hear from her, I would find out that she had died. And instead, she's on a totally different path now.

And so showing law enforcement that there are harm reduction programs that work, change people's lives, I think it's really, as I said, it's, for me, the highlight of the program.

DOUG MCVAY: That was a portion of my interview with Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Karen Kern, who's the Senior Director of Substance Use Disorder Services at Central City Concern in Portland, Oregon. We were speaking about the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD, program that's been operating in Portland for the last year.

And for now, that's it. Thank you for joining us. You've been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at I’m your host Doug McVay, editor of

The executive producer of the Drug Truth Network is Dean Becker. Drug Truth Network programs are available via podcast, the URLs to subscribe are on the network home page at

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We'll be back next week with thirty more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the drug war. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.