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Opinions and ideas expressed on INSIDE CRIME do not represent any associated organization. Copyright 2019

This week the U.S. Attorney General announced the initiative: Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. A five country ministerial partnering with tech industry leaders have agreed to establish a baseline framework for companies that provide online services to deter use of the Internet as a tool for sexually exploiting and abusing children. This is a good thing. A strong public/private partnership is needed to address this issue. While the online tech companies and government don't agree on everything, where there is agreement they should take action. In this case they have identified 11 Principals that companies should follow. These Principals have been endorsed by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Roblox, Snapchat, and Twitter.

Kudos to those who want to be part of the answer.

Updated: Feb 17

All of us at #InsideCrime want to say "THANK YOU" to the men and women of law enforcement on this Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

We honor the dedication and hard work of the law enforcement community by telling their stories. In Season 3 of #InsideCrime "Survivors and Heroes" we talk to a few of law enforcement's heroes:

DEA Special Agent Joe Piersante

DEA Special Agent Joe Piersante is an American Hero. He is the recipient of numerous medals for bravery including the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom - the civilian equivalent of the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in combat. In this episode of Inside Crime, Joe shares intimate details of that day with Angeline and we learn why he‘s a true inspiration to us all.

Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Danny Reyes

In 2014, Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Daniel Reyes became the first Deputy Sheriff to receive the highest honor from the United States Attorney General's Office: The Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery. These days, Deputy Sheriff Reyes openly shares his very personal story to help save others. He explains to Angeline what happened when he suddenly faced the barrel of a handgun and how he survived.

FBI Special Agent Jon Moeller

In 2002, FBI Special Agent Jon Moeller was part of a new unit that investigated crimes against children when 13-year-old Alicia Kozakiewicz disappeared from her Pittsburgh neighborhood. Her abductor held her captive in his basement, tortured her and broadcast the abuse live online. Days later, when FBI agents stormed the house, Agent Moeller led the way.

New York State Trooper Sayeh Rivazfar

Sayeh was eight years old when her mother’s boyfriend broke into their home and kidnapped Sayeh and her 6-year-old sister, Sara. It’s a story that’s difficult to hear but Sayeh wants everyone to know what happened because she hopes it will help save other children.

Tallahassee Police Office Sean Wyman

Beaten as a little boy, Sean Wyman ran away from home and entered foster care when he was just ten years old. Today, Sean is a police officer, public speaker and author. He shares his life story to help others.

Tempe Police Office Lindsay McCall Long

On October 29, 2018, Officer Lindsay McCall Long and her partner were serving an order of protection when they were attacked by a gunman. This wife and mother of two candidly reveals the details of what happened that day and how her family has helped her survive.

The Post's View * Opinion

Congress should act to allow a ban on fentanyl indefinitely

By Editorial Board Jan. 5, 2020 at 6:19 p.m. EST

FENTANYL IS a powerful opioid analgesic with great medical benefits for those suffering from cancer pain — and great potential for improper and illicit use. That potential had fortunately gone mostly unrealized in the United States before 2013, at which point drug users discovered fentanyl as an alternative to heroin and other prescription opioids, and the number of deaths from synthetic opioid (primarily fentanyl) overdose skyrocketed, according to government data, reaching 28,466 by 2017 — or nearly half of all opioid-related deaths that year.

Government was slow to react, in part because fentanyl is devilishly protean. On the black market, it is not one drug but rather many “analogues,” each of which is chemically similar — but legally distinct. This hampered federal efforts to crack down on the supply pouring in from countless small labs in China, via Mexico or even international mail. Savvy drug producers could simply tweak a molecule or two, creating a “new” substance not presumed to be on the prohibited “schedule.” As a result, federal authorities were in the position, under existing statutes, of having to prosecute alleged analogue traffickers under a more difficult evidentiary standard than would otherwise have been required.

In February 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration addressed this issue by invoking special emergency authorities to impose a “class-wide” ban on any and all fentanyl analogues. But this ban expires Feb. 6; it could be extended for at most one year, after consultations with the Department of Health and Human Services. For months, the Justice Department, with the support of 52 state and territory attorneys general (including those of Maryland, Virginia and the District), has been asking Congress to enact a law empowering the DEA on its own to keep the ban on fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances indefinitely. An effort to include the measure in the must-pass year-end spending bill failed, however, so there are only a few weeks left to avoid a reversion to the previous legal status quo.

Congress should enact the bill before that. Opponents ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union on the left to FreedomWorks on the right raise the generally valid point that drug use and addiction are primarily public-health matters that should be dealt with through treatment rather than criminal sanctions. Granting the DEA the ban it seeks, they argue, would give federal law enforcement the power to impose harsh mandatory minimum sentences for possession of an alleged analogue that may not have the same effects on the human body as fentanyl.

This strikes us as a real but manageable risk, which could be mitigated by incorporating a requirement that the proposed ban be reevaluated every five years or so to make sure it is working as intended. For now, fentanyl is not only a demand-side problem of illicit and harmful use but also a supply-side problem of large-scale but elusive trafficking networks based abroad. There is little evidence that the Justice Department plans to target individual users rather than traffickers, and strong reason to believe that Congress should give it adequate legal and logistical tools to curb the flow of this deadly drug.