Law Enforcement Against Prohibition's (LEAP) newest blogger, one Officer Anonymous, pulls no punches about his disgust over the drug war. Via The Raw Story, he relates his very first drug arrest which involved a minor traffic stop.
The guy, I think he had a defective taillight or something. He was sober, polite, respectful, no problems, and my training officer said, 'Oh yeah, he's gonna have drugs.'
The guy okayed a vehicle search and turned out to have some (non-specific) hard drugs on him. Officer Anonymous felt guilty even then that the man was facing seriously jail time and he thought "This is not the war on drugs I thought it would be."
LEAP is a kick-ass organization, with an added uncomfortable-awesome quality for those of us who are nervous about cops in general, because they're pretty much the embodiment of those good apples trying to make up for the rotten rest of the barrel. But they're not just the cops who have learned to regret some of their drug war moments post-retirement. They also have active-duty cops, or at least this new fellow. He's staying anonymous, though, in order to save himself from getting in trouble. This doesn't seem like a bad career move in a world where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was recently fired for simply discussing the possibility of legalization.
It's hard to feel sympathy for certain cops, particularly those who started off their careers perpetuating what could arguably called one of libertarians' biggest pet issues (for good reason). Which is why it's good for me to see Major Neil Franklin, the executive director of LEAP, speak about the death of his comrade, Edward Toatley at the Baltimore Police Department. Toatley was killed while making an undercover purchase of cocaine from "a mid-level drug dealer." Franklin tends to tear up when he speaks about it (both in the video below and when I saw him speak at an anti-drug war rally near the White House this summer), and it's pretty difficult not to feel a pang of sympathy. Cops get fed propaganda, too. Some of them just believe that they're fighting for all us little people; fighting the scourge of drugs. That doesn't excuse or erase what they do, but it makes them a little easier to forgive when they wake up, as Franklin, Officer Anonymous, and the rest of LEAP's members have done.
I can't decide if I wish Officer Anonymous would stand up and express his disapproval of the drug war, or better yet, quit his police job altogether — which I assume still requires him to participate in the drug war to some extent — or whether he's doing more good shining a light on what's happening behind that blue line.
More words from Anonymous' LEAP blog, some of which bring optimism:
Despite my current silence, I believe a paradigm shift regarding the drug war is quietly occurring in every law enforcement agency in this country, thanks in large part to the efforts of LEAP. This paradigm shift is palpable— I can see it, feel it, and on occasion I hear it slip out from fellow officers and even supervisors once in a blue moon. I firmly believe things are about to change in this country, and when they do, those within law enforcement will be jumping off this drug war rat ship like it was on fire. And the jumpers will proclaim that they knew the drug war was wrong the whole time. But alas, I am not here to judge or point fingers at those wearing badges—I wear one too. I too am riding on that drug war rat ship. Gladly, I will be jumping off that rat ship with everyone else. In the meantime, I can point no fingers, except at myself.