Tag Archives: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

All hail Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

Calvina Fay, the unofficial “Queen of the Drug War”, has an article titled “America Needs Leaders, Not Labels” in the Spring 2011 edition of “The Coalition” (the official publication of the National Narcotics Officers Association). In it, she says this about the major drug policy reform groups (page 18):

Everyone who works on drug related issues knows the names of the major organizations fighting to legalize and normalize drug use: Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). Their money and their vast numbers of supporters enable their voices to be heard above all others.

Another legalization group gaining momentum is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). According to their mission statement, LEAP is made up of current and former members of law enforcement who believe current drug polices fail to address the problems of crime, drug abuse, and addiction. However, membership is not actually limited to those currently or formerly associated with law enforcement so even criminals can become one of their members. By continuing to fight a war on drugs, according to LEAP, the government has only increased the societal problems associated with drug use. Their idea of effective drug policy is to legalize and regulate illicit drugs.

Grassroots community efforts to battle legalization initiatives and legislation depend upon and turn to law enforcement for support in keeping illegal drugs off the street and out of the hands of our youth. With this in mind, one can only imagine the mixed message the community receives from a group like LEAP that claims to represent the mindset of law enforcement.

LEAP does not release information on its members, so it is impossible to determine how many current or past members of law enforcement their alleged 15,000 membership actually represents. what is clear is that they exploit the integrity, commitment of service, and community protection that law enforcement represents while pushing their agenda to “end prohibition” and “legalize all drugs so we can control and regulate them”.

It is imperative that we remain united to counter any and all pro-drug messages coming from groups like LEAP. Law enforcement has always been the natural ally in fighting drug use and abuse, and more importantly, law enforcement provides valuable insight into what is really happening on the streets of America’s communities. Law enforcement bears witness on a daily basis to the dangers illegal drugs impose on our nation’s youth, and law enforcement’s experiences and voices must be heard in this battle.

All things considered, high praise for LEAP! And I am struck by the fact that Fay is willing to characterize drug policy reform groups and their constituencies as the enemy, in a war that is frighteningly real. I encourage you to support all the groups listed above, and you should really consider donating to LEAP.

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Ending KC Drug Prohibition Solves Violence, Need for Intrusive Govt. Surveillance Tech

Today Tony’s Kansas City highlights a statement by former City Council candidate and liberty activist Tracy Ward on the deployment of “Scattershot” technology to pick up gunfire activity through Kansas City:

Tracy Ward: “Why is this shot spotter program teaming with the ATA? What project for the ATA was the money originally earmarked for that they’re now using for the shot spotter? There just seems to be a lot of back room dealing in this situation. Where were the public meetings and the opportunity for testimony before this was put into place? The news just reports the hope that these surveillance mechanisms might be used to stop crimes with little statistical data to back up that idea. In reality, the public should know that those microphones in these shot spotters can pick up and listen to more than just gunfire.”

Tony responds:

Right now the rate of local violence and homicide is so bad that the locals seem more worried about security than guarding against any threat to civil liberties. Nevertheless, Tracy’s questions about new Kansas City surveillance tech are consistent with her local efforts to raise awareness about challenges to freedom in the digital age.

The elephant in this room is the cause of this wave of violence and homicide. Tracy is right in her claim that these surveillance mechanisms are worryingly intrusive, and Tony is right that Kansas City right now is focused on ways to secure life and property from violent criminals. Yet there is at least one policy option that urgently needs to be discussed as part of the solution, and for this I turn to the words of Neill Franklin, a retired police officer with 33 years of drug law enforcement:

Primarily, violence in this country. The cartels are now in over 200 cities in our country–with that comes violence. We have our neighborhood gangs–with that comes violence. And it is all attributed to prohibition of drugs in this country. And in order to eliminate that violence and harm we have to end our war on drugs.

You should also watch this video of Neill Franklin speaking to the National NAACP last year. His speech is a powerful indictment of the War on Drugs from a law enforcement perspective:
I submit that until we can deal with Kansas City’s gang problem, citizens will continue to be threatened by increasingly intrusive government surveillance, which Tracy fears, and Kansas City residents will continue to be insecure in their persons and property, which Tony fears. Yet we don’t need to live like this. Kansas City needs to come to a realization that the time is long past for this discussion to happen at all levels of our government.
Indeed, Kansas City may look to the example set by Columbia, Missouri. Popular discontent with the use of SWAT teams to enforce marijuana and drug search warrants forced the City Council and Police Department to change policy. Indeed, Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton has even endorsed marijuana legalization, indicating that this would do much to undermine criminal activity:
For taking these stances, and for further reforming the Columbia Police Department, Chief Burton has been been lauded by civil liberties and citizen groups in Columbia, who have expressed support for his leadership quite vocally. Yesterday, Keep Columbia Free Vice President Abhi Sivasailam noted to ABC 17 (KMIZ):
“All of these petitions are geared towards supporting Chief Burton and demonstrating there is a lot of public support for his tenure as police chief,” Sivasailam said.
The KCF petition points out Burton’s reforms within the department that have been applauded such as his limited use of SWAT teams when serving warrants and his endorsement of the legalization of marijuana.”I think he is a progressive and critical thinker about the laws we have instead of just blindly enforcing laws,” Sivasailam said, “The petitions are also meant to balance out opposition from CPOA’s request of removing the chief. We want to make sure the city manager hears everyones voice on this not just CPOA’s narrow one.”

What are the political risks to Burton’s stance in Columbia? As he is finding out, none. I’ll leave you with this final quote from an article in today’s Columbia Tribune:

Burton said he does not believe a majority of his department agrees with Cuttle and that the officers union is “running rampant.” He also said he believes the officers who are most vocal are having a hard time adjusting to accountability.
“Nobody likes being held accountable,” Burton said. “Rules had to be put into place to get things under control. It started with SWAT. Changes are not always comfortable.”

Matthes said the union told him its goal is to get Burton fired and that it plans to engage media outlets to foster a groundswell of public support for Burton’s ouster. “The exact opposite is what’s happening,” Matthes said. “What I’m hearing from the community, they don’t like the approach the fraternal order is using.”
Matthes said he also was contacted by officers who expressed embarrassment about the union’s tactics. Although he said he respects the views of officers who back the union’s statements, it is “painful” to see the union speak for others who do not agree.

 Kansas City, what say you?
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