Spring 2020 - CRIM 453 D100

Policing Illegal Drug Markets (3)

Class Number: 9044

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 8:30 AM – 11:20 AM
    BLU 11901, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 17, 2020
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    AQ 5037, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    CRIM 101.



Provides an overview of the theoretical, analytical, and ethical issues related to drug law enforcement. Examines the strategies used by the police in responding to the challenges posed by illegal drug markets.


A seminar about drug law enforcement as a special case in policing. Expect an overview of theory, analytics, and ethics related to drug law enforcement. We’ll cover a range of issues related to policing illegal drug markets: conceptual issues related to drug law enforcement; history of drug law enforcement; where drugs are manufactured, bought, and sold; response to drug use; street- and upper-level drug trafficking; policing models of drug law enforcement; drug law enforcement as a means of reducing drug use, crime, and violence; drug law enforcement as a means of disrupting drug smuggling/trafficking infrastructure; and alternatives to drug prohibition.


  • Seminar participation 25%
  • Debate – preparation 5%
  • Debate 25%
  • Essay – plan 10%
  • Essay – final 35%



Your final grade consists of seminar participation, preparation for a group debate, participation in the debate itself, a ‘plan’ for what you’re going to write about in your final essay, and the final essay. All assignments must be fulfilled to receive a letter grade. A grade of ‘N’ on one or more of the evaluation criteria results in an automatic final grade of ‘N’ for this course. Hand-in a hard copy of your written assignments at the beginning of seminar on the due date. Email your essay to me on the same day—don’t make any changes or edits to your papers before you send them to me.

Seminar participation
Attendance and participation are mandatory. As a seminar course, you’re expected to regularly respond when I pose open questions to the class and/or raise questions yourself when you have them. In short, I expect that you attend seminar week-in, week-out having read what’s required so that you can participate during seminar.  

Illegal drugs and drug law enforcement comes with many controversial issues, opinions, and debates in academia and public policy. As part of a sequence of debates, you’ll be assigned to a group and given a subject from four controversial topics that I’ll give details about later on in the semester. Debates will be held in place of the last two seminars in the semester (see course schedule). Assuming six students per topic, randomly assigned teams of three students will participate in four debates lasting 45-50 minutes each. Before reading break, I’ll assign groups and topics. I’ll later assign which ‘side’ of the debate that your group’s arguing for and against in the first week of March.

As part of the debate, you’re to give a series of arguments for your side of the issue and/or against the opposing side of the issue, formal debate style. I expect you to cite statistics and use concreate examples as part of your arguments. Each team will get 12 minutes to present their opening arguments (~4 minutes per student), after which each team will get a chance to respond to arguments made by the opposing team across two rounds of counter-arguing and cross-examination (≤ 8 minutes for each team per round). All students not participating in a given debate will have 15-20 minutes to ask the two debating teams questions (as part of your participation grade). I’ll evaluate each of you individually, so you won’t earn a group mark. Non-participants vote on the winning team. Each member of the winning debate teams get two bonus marks on their final grade.

In preparation for your debate, you will also hand-in (1) two arguments for and two arguments against whatever issue you’ve been assigned to debate and (2) an annotated bibliography of 10 peer-review journal articles. Each written argument should be ~100-150 words in length (i.e., ~400-600 words in total). For the annotated bibliography, give a two or three sentence description of the main idea or argument for each paper you’re citing—don’t summarize the articles or copy/paste the abstracts. Your debate preparation accounts for 5% of your final grade. I’ll post brief guidelines for formatting of the debate preparation hand-in later on in the semester.  

Formal writing for this course consists of a short ‘plan’ detailing your argument and supporting evidence for the final essay and the final essay itself. I’ll post guidelines online later in the semester. Expect a short list of questions about theory and policy relating to drug law enforcement. You’re to pick one question from the list and write an argument in response to that question. Six weeks before the final essay’s due, you’ll hand-in the ‘plan’ for your essay—think of it as a brief first draft of your final essay that’s meant to give you an opportunity for feedback before writing your final essay. It’s expected that you pick up writing your final essay using the writing you’ve already done for your ‘plan’ but be aware that all of you will have rewriting and editing to do. I except that you’ll make changes to your original writing given the comments I make on your ‘plan’.



All required readings for this course will be made available electronically through the Canvas course page

Department Undergraduate Notes:

If you have any Criminology course enrollment requests (course adds, course swaps), please contact a Criminology advisor. Please do not contact instructors for enrollment assistance as they will ultimately refer you to a Criminology advisor.

Criminology course enrollment requests should be sent to a Criminology advisor no later than the last day of the Second week of classes. Late enrollment requests are subject to approval and are not guaranteed. 

Enrollment requests for non-Crim courses should be directed to the advisor for the program offering the course. 

ATTENTION: STUDENTS WITH A DISABILITY: Please contact the Centre for Students with Disabilities, (MBC 1250 or Phone 778-782-3112) if you need or require assistance, not your individual instructors.  

  • N.B.: Students are reminded that attendance in the first week of classes is important. However, there are no tutorials in the first week.
  • ON CAMPUS COURSES ONLY: Assignments not submitted to the Professor/T.A. during class/office hours must be placed in the security box behind the General Office (ASSC 10125), or submitted as per Professor’s instructions for courses taking place at Surrey Campus. The assignment drop-off box is emptied Monday to Friday at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. only and the contents are date stamped accordingly. No other department’s date stamp will apply (e.g. Library/Campus Security) and the School of Criminology is not responsible for assignments submitted any other way (e.g. slid under office doors). The University does NOT accept assignments by fax. 
  • A student must complete ALL aspects of a course (including assignments, exams, class participation, presentations, chat room components of Distance Education courses and other), otherwise he/she will receive a grade of N. 
  • E-mail policy for on campus courses only: The School of Criminology STRONGLY DISCOURAGES the use of e-mail in lieu of office hour visits. Criminology advises its instructional staff that they are NOT required to respond to student e-mails and that students wishing to confer with them should do so in person during scheduled meeting times.
  • The University has formal policies regarding intellectual dishonesty and grade appeals which may be obtained from the General Office of the School of Criminology.
  • Under GP18, the University has policies and procedures which respond to our obligations under the BC Human Rights Code to provide a harassment and discrimination free environment for the students, staff and faculty of this institution.  Members of this community have an affirmative obligation to safeguard the human rights of others.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html