By Charmie Gholson
Canadian Constable David Bratzer loves being a police officer. In fact, this Victoria, British Columbian police officer loves his job and his community so much that he wants to legalize and regulate all illegal drugs. Why? So that he and other law enforcement members can focus on doing police work that will keep society safer.
Bratzer is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and will be visiting Hawaii between January 11 through the 17th, with a trip to the Big Island in the middle of the week, to give presentations and meet with groups interested in learning more about ending drug prohibition.
Founded in 2002, LEAP was organized to voice the growing opposition among law enforcement to the US-style â€œWar on Drugs, â€ and is made up of current and former law enforcement and criminal justice professionalsâ€”cops, judges, prosecutors, DEA guys â€” who are convinced that the our drug policy is doing more harm than good, and we need a fundamentally better way of dealing with drugs in our society.
They modeled their organization after Vietnam Veterans Against The War and members of the speakers bureau volunteer their time to give presentations to civic organizations, editorial boards and religious groups. Speakers for LEAP will talk with anyone, really, who is interested in learning why these front line warriors advocate for an end to the 40 year battle to eradicate drugs from society.Bratzer says ending the “War on Drugs” would result in numerous benefits:Â safer communities because of the reduction in drug and gang-related violence; a shift in law enforcement priorities into areas that historically were ignored or underfunded and what he terms a “peace dividend” of economic growth, revitalized downtown neighborhoods, decreased healthcare spending, and a better relationship between law enforcement and the public.
Becoming a police officer was self-evident for Bratzer. He wanted a steady job that would both provide for his family and allow him to connect with his community of Victoria, British Columbia. He also already had two brothers working for the police department.
As he immersed himself in his career, this young officer became aware that his love of law enforcement actually conflicts with drug enforcement laws, which he believes do not help his community. In fact, according to David, theyâ€™re unrelated to what the police ought to be doing.
The final step on David’s journey to enlisting actively in the fight against the prohibition of drugs came as he followed the 2007 murder trial of Willie Pickton in Vancouver, who to date has been convicted of murdering six women and is awaiting trial for the killings of 20 others. All of Pickton’s victims were drug-addicted prostitutes, and David can’t help thinking that “if this country had sensible drug laws some or all of these women might still be alive. Women should not have to resort to street prostitutionâ€”and all of the risk that entailsâ€”in order to fund a drug addiction.” That is what comes of criminalizing drug use.
David struggled with the decision to speak out publicly about ending prohibition. He knew as an active duty officer his decision would prompt additional scrutiny at work. So why did David decide to speak out? With a simple elegance he will tell you, “I am saying in public what many of my peers have said to me in private.Â I have a lot of respect for my fellow officers but I felt it was important to speak up. I feel strongly about this issue and I didn’t want to have any regrets at the end of my career.” By his example, he is confident that other officers who feel likewise will step out of the shadows and help LEAP to end drug prohibition.
Although his schedule is filling up fast, Bratzer still has openings to meet with groups, organizations and newspaper boards. For more information, contact Shaleen Title, Speakers Bureau Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, cell: (617) 955-9638.
You can watch Bratzer testifying before the Parliamentary Committee against the introduction of Canadaâ€™s first federal minimum sentencing laws for drug trafficking here
Visit LEAP on the web at
(Charmie Gholson is a staff writer for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.)