FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 28, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media//at//leap//dot//cc
New Head of Pro-Legalization Police Group Praises Congressional Actions Against "War on Drugs"
Former Baltimore Cop Saw Colleagues Killed in "Drug War"
WASHINGTON, DC -- As the U.S. House passed separate bills this week to scale back penalties for crack cocaine and to create a commission to reconsider the entire "war on drugs," a group of pro-legalization police officers, judges and prosecutors announced that it has hired a former Baltimore narcotics cop as its new executive director.
Neill Franklin, a 33-year police veteran who led multi-jurisdictional anti-narcotics task forces for the Maryland State Police and training for the Baltimore Police Department, officially took the helm of the legalization group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), on July 1.
"The 'war on drugs' has done nothing to reduce drug use," said Franklin. "But this failed prohibition policy has achieved some results: far too many cops killed in action, billions of tax dollars wasted, powerful and well-funded drug cartels and out-of-control violence in our cities. It's great to see our elected representatives finally beginning to address these problems, but there's still a lot more work to be done."
The pro-legalization criminal justice professionals of LEAP are working to change the current debate about the "war on drugs" to help more people understand that current drug policies harm public safety and that only by legalizing and regulating drugs can we actually control them and thereby reduce death, disease, crime and addiction.
To that end, LEAP is actively organizing cops, judges and prosecutors who are campaigning for Proposition 19, the statewide marijuana legalization initiative on California's ballot this November. Representatives of the organization's 100-member speakers bureau have also testified for drug policy reform measures in recent months in places like the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.
"When my good friend Ed Toatley was killed in the line of fire during an undercover drug purchase, Maryland lost one of the best narcotics cops in our state's history," said Franklin. "It is in his honor, and in the names of all the good cops whose lives have needlessly been lost in this failed 'drug war,' that I will work with LEAP to change these deadly drug laws."
On Tuesday the House passed H.R. 5143, which would create a blue ribbon commission to study the criminal justice system from top to bottom and recommend reforms. Sen. Jim Webb, sponsor of the Senate companion bill, said that the commission should study drug legalization. On Wednesday, the House passed S. 1789, which would lower the disparity between sentences for crack cocaine and powder cocaine from it's current 100-to-1 ratio down to 18-to-1. That bill unanimously passed the Senate in March.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and its 30,000 supporters represent police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents, US marshals and others from around the world who want to legalize and regulate all drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
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