Who knows, maybe that IS the intent of the episode, but after seeing it several times and watching the cops' reaction to Donaldson's talk of being reformed and how he wishes he could give the suspect a brand-new soul," I think it's all genuine and that the character is sincere. Spelling, of course, would go on to push something arguably more sinister than any narcotic to the unsuspecting American populace: "The Love Boat."
The references to the cop killer's drug use and his being “goofed up” are meant to provide a strong anti-drug message, but to me the episode is just unsettling. SPOILER ALERT: The random killing of a policeman with no real motive is bad enough, but while the good guys do catch the culprit, the patented Dragnet epilogue makes me even more uneasy. Murderer Harry Talmadge, a repeated drug offender and thief who even threatens to kill Smith when they track him down, gets 10 years for manslaughter? What kind of plea bargain mechanism does the district attorney have out in L.A.?