Police

"The war on drugs is a war on people." Meet Law Enforcement Against Prohibition's New Anonymous Blogger, an Active-Duty Cop

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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.  

Check it out. And check out Reason on LEAP and on the drug war. Also, Nick Gillespie and Reason.tv's interview with Franklin on the occasion of the dug war's official 40th anniversary this summer:

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  1. I believe the biggest obstacles to getting rid of the drug war are the forfeiture laws that departments use to pad their budgets and buy cool stuffs. It won’t end till the profit goes away.

    1. Do not forget the public sector unions, private drug rehab facilities, and private prison companies who LOVE the drug war. Many more jobs, much more dues, much more revenue.

    2. I wish a President Paul would just scrap RICO altogether.

    3. I agree. Asset forfeiture must end.

  2. Thank you Lucy for an anti-balko nut punch Friday post!

    1. I’m enigmatic that way.

      (Yer welcome.)

  3. Oh Lucy . . . “the possibly of legalization”?

  4. or whether he’s doing more good shining a light on what’s happening behind that blue line

    He’s doing more good shining the light. We need more Serpicos; we need more cops blowing holes in the blue wall of silence.

    1. Part of the corruption Serpico helped uncover included cops selling the heroin from the French Connection case, which had been stolen from evidence lockers. In a way, Serpico was the real French Connection II

    2. I agree. If all the anti-statist cops aren’t cops anymore, that just leaves statist cops without anything in their way.

  5. 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.

    I hope Officer Anonymous stays on the force and keeps to the shadows for as long as is necessary. Knowing that cops like him or her are out there gives me reassurance that maybe there is at least some real justice being served.

    1. I agree 100%. I live in a neighborhood that is full of cops so between family, neighbors and the local softball team I play on, I know quite a few. And even the ones I call friends can scare the shit out of me in terms of their inability to think independently. The only way that’s ever gonna change is if cops who actually think for themselves stay on the force.

    2. My dad and husband both tried to affect the government from the inside and failed.

      My dad was a whistle blower, testified before congress, wrote articles, and ended up forcibly retired when he turned 65. The corrupt colleague was promoted.

      My husband worked for the County, then later was a contractor to the Feds. He had to completely change careers, the experience was so terrible.

      All of which is to say that I doubt Officer Anonymous will be able to last long as a cop if he’s truly opposed to the drug war. Even with the blog as an outlet, he’ll find it to be a soul-sucking experience to work directly against his principles.

  6. 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.

    Hey, the general public seems to be warming to the ideas of personal liberty more and more (if at a seemingly glacial pace), so maybe the boys in blue are coming around as well. I wish I saw evidence of it.

    Disclosure: I just started watching The Wire.

    1. Omar comin’.

    2. Wait til you see Hamsterdam. Love the Wire.

  7. I’m really torn on whether the good guys like this should quit on principle or stay as police. As a practical matter, I think it is largely a good thing. It’s good to know that there are police who think about these things.
    But on the other hand, there has to be a line beyond which just doing one’s job is not an excuse for doing horrible things to people (like locking them up for drugs). I’d like to say that arresting people for drug possession or sales crosses that line. But until there are enough cops willing to quit over the drugwar and make a stink about it, I think that as a practical matter, it is better to have such people continue to work as police. Otherwise, you end up with just the assholes and true believers.

  8. We had like 200 Republican debates and I think only in the first one or so the candidates were asked about The War on Drugs?…

  9. The WoD is not going to end until there are pols willing to out the officially Pro-WoD pols who know it is bogus, but keep plugging it anyways because it gets them Socon votes.

  10. 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.

    They are the 1%!

  11. those good apples trying to make up for the rotten rest of the barrel

    Classic libertarian switcheroo. Law enforcement itself is a flawed concept, the exception being the minority of cops who somehow remain moral in an immoral profession.

  12. Would the world be better without police officers (before answering, consider whether you come from a family capable of sustaining a vendetta) or in a world where only thugs served as cops?

  13. Anybody else think “anonymous” might be our very own Dunphy?

    Kinda sounds like him to me.

    1. Nah, Ofcr. Anon uses proper capitalization.

  14. How long until a law enforcement agency raids the leap offices and scours through their stuff to find out the identity of “anonymous”?

  15. drug war rat ship would be a good name for a band.

  16. I’m not going to name names or even departments but I know cops personally who look the other way at small-quantity drug possession and use every day. They know the War on Drugs is a load of crap.

  17. and the FBI outs him in 3.. 2..

  18. The following facts are indisputable:

    * Our heavily militarized Police force is effectively laying siege to black neighborhoods. This is not happening with the same force and zeal in predominantly white neighborhoods.

    * (2009) Afro-Americans do not use drugs at a perceivable higher rate (9.6%) than white Americans (8.8%) Source:

    * Afro-Americans are being stopped and searched at a far higher frequency than white Americans.

    * Afro-Americans represent just 12.2 % of the population but are 37% of those arrested for drug offenses.

    * Afro-Americans comprise 53% of drug convictions but are just 12.2% of the population.

    * Afro-Americans comprise 67 percent of all people imprisoned for drug offenses but are just 12.2% of the population.

    * One out of three young African American (ages 18 to 35) men are in prison or on some form of supervised release.

    * There are more African American men in prison than in college. That’s a four times higher percentage of Black men in prison than South Africa at the height of apartheid. 

    In July 2011 The NAACP passed an “historic” resolution, calling for an end to drug prohibition. Very soon, many other civic organizations, the entire faith community and all persons of good conscience will join the many who are already demanding that this horrific assault on the African-American community be halted immediately. What about YOU?

    Whatever the exact dynamics involved, these racial disparities are a direct result of drug-prohibition and are quite clearly unacceptable. This dangerous and costly moronothon has done nothing but result in generations of incarcerated and disenfranchised Afro Americans. Any citizen not doing their utmost to help reverse this perverse injustice may duly hang their head in shame.

    “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice”
    – Martin Luther King Jr

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
    – Desmond Tutu

  19. The only people supporting the continued prohibition of drugs are people that are making their living from the WOD or they are incapable of doing the slightest bit of research,,beyond the hype pushed by mainstream media.

    When a pharmaceutical company spends millions of dollars trying to produce a synthetic marijuana pill for 3 decades and fails,then they produce a medicine from the plant,,the same way man has for thousands of years,then research is over.

    Any person that cannot recognize the con the government has run on America shouldn’t stand up and defend it.

  20. It’s a good thing if he stays on the force. But if he starts calling himself libertarian, that’s a problem. You don’t have to be libertarian to be against the drug war, you just have to have two brain cells to rub together.

    But an active drug enforcer can no more be a libertarian than an actively huntin n killin Ted Nugent can be a vegan.

    We would be wise to remember that, and keep in mind those principles which inform our philosophy.

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