I apologise to everyone who regularly visits my blog that I have not been posting for some time now. One reason is that I simply do not have the time. Another is that I have determined not to respond to any adverse media reports concerning the police services of England and Wales. Why? Well, other police bloggers do so and I would merely be writing about the same topic but in a different manner. As I have said before, I only ever wanted to explore what it is to be a police officer and to share this with a wider audience. I wanted to demonstrate that being a police officer isn't just a job, it's a vocation, something that affects every aspect of your life whether on-duty or not.
I can't think of any better way to illustrate the above other than in this latest guest posting. It's from a police officer in Canada who devotes his own time to an issue he feels very strongly about: the legalisation of drugs. Of course, I have read about this in numerous newspapers, but it has always been portrayed as an indication of defeat on the war against drugs to even to consider it. I'm still undecided on the issue, but will certainly post a comment once I have digested what Officer Bratzer has written.
I would like to thank the Inspector for the opportunity to write this guest post. A successful blog represents a great personal effort and it was gracious of the Inspector to share a community of readers drawn together by his excellent writing.
A little about me: my name is David Bratzer and I am a police officer from Canada. I have a strong interest in drug policy reform which I pursue off-duty as a volunteer with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. LEAP is an international organization of 13,000 current and former law enforcement officers who seek to minimize death, disease, crime and addiction by gradually legalizing and regulating all drugs. I should clarify that my opinions are my own and they do not represent those of my police department. Also, I still enforce the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act while on-duty (this is the act that criminalizes drug use in Canada). This might seem hypocritical - and often I do feel that way - but one can’t swear an oath to uphold the law and then pick and choose which laws to enforce.
The argument in favour of legalizing drugs like cocaine, heroin and ecstasy is not that they are beneficial or fun. Instead, LEAP argues these drugs are so dangerous they need to be regulated and controlled by the government. Under prohibition, the government has no control. It is the drug dealer who chooses price, purity, cutting agents as well as business location and operating hours. And these dealers certainly are not asking minors for ID, nor are they encouraging their
customers to moderate or abstain from drug use.
After decades of heavy enforcement, illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent and more available than ever before. By legalizing and regulating drugs, the British government could launch an economic war against organized crime by removing the profit motive from the black market.
Although legalization might seem like some kind of crazy utopian idea, it is actually a well researched crime control theory with broad support from across the political spectrum. This includes conservative organizations such as;
The Economist magazine as well as The UK Libertarian Party which promotes the “legalisation of all narcotic substances for adult consumption” as part of its platform.
LEAP has several representatives in the UK: Francis Wilkinson, retired Chief Constable from Gwent; Paul Whitehouse, former Chief Constable of Sussex; and James Duffy, a retired police inspector from Scotland. The Transform Drug Policy Foundation maintains a more complete list of officers who believe the current drug laws should be partially or fully abolished.
LEAP also offers stealth membership for those officers who are concerned about personal attacks and harassment if they go public with their views. You might have noticed that many of the names above are retired officers or senior police managers. Perhaps the readers of this blog can enlighten me: what are the laws and policies in the United Kingdom regarding police officers and free speech? What would happen if rank-and-file serving officers called for drug legalization as a public safety measure?
This is an important question because the War on Drugs has been a disaster for British police agencies. It is time for officers at all levels to acknowledge the significant damage done to the vital profession of policing through the enforcement of drug prohibition.
These consequences include diminished public respect, alienation from youth, recruiting difficulties, increased call loads, budget pressures, unfavourable case law, drug-related corruption and on-duty officer injuries and deaths.
Drug trafficking and drug use are consensual but harmful activities. Criminalizing these activities instead of regulating them results in gang violence, organized crime, property crime and the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. Police and the legal professions must examine crime control efforts with a critical eye, particularly in the area of drug policy because the time for change is long overdue.
What do you think? Should drugs be legalized and regulated?