Active duty police officer and LEAP speaker/blogger David Bratzer was planning to accept an invitation to speak about drug policy and harm reduction at an official city government-sponsored event this week...until his police department's leadership stepped in and ordered him not to show up.
If you think such censorship is unfair, please add your name to LEAP's petition at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/freespeech to show your support for cops like David who speak out against unjust and ineffective drug polices even while they risk their lives enforcing them.
There are more details in the press release that follows.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell, LEAP – (202) 557-4979 or media //at// leap //dot// cc
B.C. Police Officer Ordered Not to Discuss Drug Policy and Harm Reduction
Civil Liberties Advocates File Complaint With Victoria Police Board
VICTORIA, BC – An international group of cops, judges and prosecutors who oppose the “war on drugs” is criticizing a gag order from the Victoria Police Department that limits the freedom of expression of one of its officers. The officer, David Bratzer, who volunteers with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) while off-duty, has been ordered not to speak at an official City of Victoria-sponsored event on harm reduction scheduled for this Wednesday, March 3 at 7:00 P.M.
Even though the event is scheduled outside of his regular work hours, management from the Victoria Police Department, without Bratzer’s knowledge, informed city staff that he was being withdrawn from speaking. Then on February 24, a senior officer at the department directly ordered Bratzer not to participate in the event.
In response to these developments, Bratzer stated: "I will not be attending this event, but I would like to thank the City of Victoria for the invitation to be part of an honest and open discussion about harm reduction. I will try to find other venues to present my views about drug policy."
Upon learning of the department’s order, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint with the Victoria Police Board.
Bratzer has always taken pains to state that his opinions are his own and do not reflect the views of his employer. He has participated in a number of credible venues related to drug policy during the past year, including delivering testimony to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in Ottawa (video available from LEAP).
“The voices of front-line officers who are charged with enforcing the drug laws are incredibly important to the public debate on drug policy issues,” said Jack Cole, a retired American undercover narcotics detective who serves as executive director for LEAP. “Preventing an officer from sharing his firsthand perspective about the harms of our current drug laws with policymakers is a disservice to the entire democratic process.”
LEAP is hosting an online petition at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/freespeech where people can speak up in support of law enforcers' rights to exercise their freedom of speech and criticize drug polices that they disagree with.
As the above matter is now a sensitive labour issue, Bratzer will not be commenting further for the time being. Please contact LEAP for further information.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an international non-profit organization of cops, prosecutors, correctional officers and other criminal justice professionals who believe the War on Drugs is a tremendous failure. Its members believe that a system of regulation and control would be more ethical and less harmful than drug prohibition. More info at www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
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Don't forget to add your voice in support for David and other cops' free speech rights at LEAP's petition.
Cops are authority figures, They enforce the law, If this cop wants to talk publicaly about his beliefs that are contrary to the law ,. then he should quit being a law enforcer. There is no way his police people should allow one of their own to cash a cop paycheque, do a cops job and then criticise the police and the laws they enforce on his own time.ReplyDelete
He is under a standard police contract to not publically take sides in political matters. So he is not having any of his rights trampled.
If he really wants to be a speaker at leap, he should quit his cop job and present himself as a former law enforcement officer. He doesn;t have to speak- he can prepare text for other speakers and still be a cop,nobody is silencing him- they are just holding him to an oath to _not get political while presenting him,self as an active duty policeman..Cops are supposed to be neutral, not selective in their duty
Cop Leap guy here wants to play hockey on both sides on the same ice at the same time and his bosses called him out, I note he complied with the cop order to not speak without a struggle. Othert cops wait til retirement to speak against policy,, this guy wants it both ways.
Look before you Leap
That first statement is a crock. Cops speak out on the issue of drug policy all the time. The only reason they want him to shut up is because he isn't giving the "approved" message. If they ban him then they should ban all cops from speaking regarding legalization no matter what side of the issue they fall on....It would be worth it not to have to hear DARE officers drag out the tired old tripe every time they get on the news AGAINST legalization.ReplyDelete
If we look at this unfortunate incident there just may be a bright side. The controversy generated by the ban may be more attention grabbing than the presentation itself would have been. Nothing is more beneficial to an author, for example, than someone wanting to ban their work. In a blink of an eye, that author's book goes straight to the top of the best seller list!ReplyDelete
Drug reform needs to be driven to the top of the list, as well...Stop the Drug War NOW!
Can someone be against capital punishment and still be an executioner? Does a tax accountant have to agree with all of the IRS laws? Of course they can.ReplyDelete
And because it is the police DEPARTMENT's obligation to enforce laws, not to make them, why does a DEPARTMENT have a policy on what laws ought to be? That's everyone's right,even the police staff, to have their own opinion on that.
Speaking of DARE, it's outrageous that police go talking to children about a public health matter. We don't see doctors training kids in law enforcement.
The first commenter shows his/her flawed logic with the first sentence.ReplyDelete
Not everyone views cops as authority figures, um, hello! Just because someone has been given power over others does not mean 1) s/he deserves it or 2) it's constitutional (let alone what God thinks).
If he didn't speak out against these failed policies then he'd be an outrageous hypocrite like those who browbeat (and worse) others and use peer pressure to spread the shame of their own making.
How would you know what kind of contract he signed?
Drug policy is only political because thugs have made it that way. There is NOT ONE THING intrinsic to plants that says you have to be a Democrat, Republican, or have some belief system in order to use them.
…Cop Leap guy here wants to play hockey on both sides on the same ice at the same time and his bosses called him out…
That is so damned ignorant. You know who is having it "both ways?" The drug cartels you are siding with! You think they have any worries, fear, or respect for your so-called "authority figures?" HA!!!!!!!!!!!
Who else has it both ways? The corrupted politicians, and other "authority figures," who take money to facilitate the unregulated drug market. (True some are just crooked, but there are others who are given a life/death choice by gangs.)
Who else has it both ways? Parasites in our govt. who reject all evidence and continue with this proven-failed policy.
Sometimes I think the only reason some people have authority on this planet is so they can prove to God, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they are incapable of having ANY real authority when it comes to life eternal.
This behavior of the VPD is much like the dark shadowy behaviors elsewhere. Hide information.
It's remarkably how opposite some govt. systems work compared to what works best. Google, and many other companies, actually give their employees time to get away from their regular duties so they can learn more about something else. They let their employees speak in educational settings to other employees about various topics. Sometimes this is called "cross-pollination," in educational circles this can be described as "transfer." You learn something that has parallels to something else, and you apply them.
Instead of openness, cross-pollination, etc… it seems our govt(s) are more interested in inbreeding! "We only want people who think like us. We are so great that we can't let any outside thoughts disrupt our glorious image of ourselves. Don't my clothing of moonbeams look so amazing?! We claim to hate socialism/communism and Islamic countries, but then we constantly talk about how great they are with their murderous drug prohibition practices."
The family that can sit down at the dinner table and talk about ANY topic, discussing it intelligently letting all members join in, picking it apart, talking about the issues from many perspectives, is going to be much more healthy than the family that is ruled by a thug addict (or two), no matter if it's the mother or father.
The family ruled by an iron fisted thug who prevents his children from asking questions, doesn't want to hear certain topics discussed, and bullies his children/wife to adopt his perverted values is doomed to lots of darkness, sudden surprises due to wishing to stay ignorant, and a serious disrespect for "authority figures."
This is the world you prohibitionist thugs have made, it is the world you will inherit, a world of shame that should have never issued from your mouths, you all will double over worse than an alcoholic going cold-turkey; the shame you made WILL come back to the houses that gave it birth, and that spirit you made is yours forever. But there is still time to repent. Join LEAP and bear the fruits of repentance.
David, we still love you.
Sorry, folks, but if this guy had any huevos (or anything like courage, honor or respect for human life) he'd stand up for his convictions. Used to we expected cops to risk their lives to protect us. Now we can't even ask them to risk their jobs.ReplyDelete
Enslaved and stripped of nearly every Earthly option to manifest authority over one's own life, and that (former) authority turned over to "authority figures."ReplyDelete
This does not encourage respect in society.
The first commenter's first paragraph also pretends it's not patriotic to be concerned about the ongoing destruction of our country, as well as other countries, due to prohibition.
Jobs that create, produce, or make other things more efficient, are worth creating and sustaining.
I think cops are a great resource to be able to call on when there's an emergency. Needed in our society. Same with other official responders. Same with prison guards.
But, Dear Leaders, the prison industry, adds no value to society. It consumes huge quantities of resources. The best we can say about prisons is they are supposed to keep people inside who, on the outside, destroy others or their property, more than they add to society. I do not use only financial measures to calculate "adding to society."
But drug prohibition has, for decades, and counting alcohol prohibition, brought serious disrepute and disrespect to the policing institution. In large part because it ripped up the lives of people who were not hurting anyone else, and placed tons of burdens on everyone they were involved with. Burdens that never should have existed in the first place.
Prohibition makes it more intense, more paranoia and expense trying to figure out if new recruits are owned by the cartels, more profit-driven/prohibition-related crimes as the black market underworld conducts business where (bullies forced) the government to declared it must take place, more families ripped apart.
Jesus tells a parable of an owner of a fruit tree who kept on finding no fruit on it. The gardener promised he would fertilize the tree and show it lots of love in order to get it to fruit. The owner gives in, but says to cut it down if it has no fruit the next year.
Jesus also says that trees which bear bad fruit get burned up in a fire.
The Drug War Tree, what kind of fruit does it bear? Respect for God's green earth, open kindness to other members of society? Or contempt for the planet, death, disease, govt. corruption, citizen terror, disrespect for authority?
To banish Mr. Bratzer because he was invited to share information about harm reduction says it all. The message they seem to want to send is "we are so strongly against reducing harm that we will exert undue influence over him, restricting his freedom of speech and treating the people who invited him as incompetent to judge on their own based on what Mr. Bratzer might say."
Becoming a member of the police force should not be like becoming the member of a cult where one has to swear allegiance to the cult takes precedence over allegiance to the society at large.
Until this incident I had hoped the VicPD would be an open participant in a societal dialogue about alternatives to current strategies. I had seen a couple of officers attend a talk by LEAP speaker Norm Stamper and one mentioned to me, "We're open [to different perspectives]."ReplyDelete
Instead, it appears their collective ego has decided it's not in their self-interest (and their budget) to support anything except for "get tough". There is no democracy or freedom of speech within the police department, and apparently that extends to outside of working hours.
Apparently a person is a police officer first, and a citizen second. Personal opinions must be suppressed. So, instead of open dialogue and the best of the best strategies rising to the surface for implementation, we get entrenched camps, arguing, and the prevailing consensus reality dominating over any other, at everyone's expense except for the "winners" (which is always just a short-term victory -- eventually the corruption destroys itself or transmutes).
In this society I have a hard time finding things that make (positive) sense within the mainstream; and this incident certainly isn't one of them.
You rock Christians Against Prohibition. Have been wondering where you were!ReplyDelete
The first poster is plain wrong, law enforcement does make the laws, just go to D.C. and check out their lobbying efforts to continue this failed policy called Prohibition. The war on drugs is their cash cow and they're trembling in their shoes because they're going to lose easy money when Prohibition is finally over.
Ask any cop what call they'd rather go on -
1. domestic disturbance with alcohol consumption OR 2. one or two NON VIOLENT individuals using a little cannabis. They will, hands down, pick the cannabis because they know it'll be an easy bust and lots of paperwork with overtime pay.
Hang in there David.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Thanks Lea. A side note, I just changed my Blogger user ID to better reflect I was writing under my own auspices, not those of my organization or the folks who have signed up.ReplyDelete
Another thing, in case you're reading Bradley, we love you too.
I have been slaving away in the New Old Salt mines! :-) There is a collaboration going on and hopefully before long it will see the light of day.
Where does prohibition exist? In the "hearts" and "minds" of the dead. But one can't reason with or fight the dead. Thus I must try to reach the living and the barely alive.
"If this cop wants to talk publicaly about his beliefs that are contrary to the law ,. then he should quit being a law enforcer."ReplyDelete
Gee, but if he lobbies government to ignore the will of the public and do things that are harmful to nation's best interests just to line his own pockets like the other cops who get to speak out public that's okay? They criticize the medical marijauna program and that's okay? They demand gun control and that's okay? They do this lobbying on taxpayer's time, with the context of their official duties and in uniform, and this is acceptable, but speaking out of uniform on his own time to lobby for something else is somehow not acceptable? A majority of Canadians want marijuana legalized. Every major poll on the subject has confirmed this again and again consistently for the last ten years. Telling cops to ignore the will of the majority forces them to choose between their oath to serve the public and their oath to enforce the law. When the choose the law over the public, democracy dies. You are obviously an enemy of democracy, like anyone who believes the law is more important than the will of the majority.
Just a quick follow up since it's probably mainly school teachers and kids who know this.ReplyDelete
But to further point out the ridiculous statement of the first Anonymous commenter who posted his/her logic… Our country (and others) has so many stupid laws that are still on the books it boggles the mind!
Clearly some who get a bee in their bonnet over something and can't handle different color skin, or interesting accents, or religious beliefs that vary from their own, have LONG been laying heavy burdens on others which they themselves don't bother to help with [Luke 11:46, Matthew 23:4].
If the first commenter had any clue s/he'd realize many of these stupid laws have landed in kids books! So now, at an early age kids can realize how stupid many adults are, and that many laws are just plain stupid. But then again, if you read The Little Prince, you'd already know that.
To imply that cops should have not discretion in enforcing laws is patently oblivious to reality! Should we make all cops carry around what probably amounts to hundreds of thousands of pages of texts — all the laws on the books — and punish them if they don't catch every "law breaker?!"
Here is a sampling of books on sale via Amazon.com:
* In Illinois, for example, it is against the law to speak English.
More Crazy Laws
* It is illegal to raise chickens in bottles in New Jersey
* Pigeons are not permitted to fly over Bellevue, Kentucky
* In Paulding, Ohio a police officer may bite a barking dog to quiet him.
* It is unlawful to keep a prisoner in jail on Sundays in Kulmont, Pennsylvania
You Can't Do That in Canada!
Chickens May Not Cross the Road and Other Crazy (But True) Laws
• It is against the law in Brooklyn, New York, for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs.
* In Idaho you are not allowed to fish while sitting on a giraffe.
* In California you must not keep slugs as pets.
Donkeys Can't Sleep in Bathtubs and Other Crazy Laws
Loony Laws: That You Never Knew You Were Breaking
Search Amazon.com for "crazy laws."
Bottom line? People who think that piling law upon law is the key to solving problems cut off their own noses to spite their face.
To say that somehow cops (or anyone!) should be muzzled from speaking against any of this, on their own time, is an outrage! Anonymous, you may think these laws catch "bad people" but you will find one day, they are chains like Jacob Marley wore when he visited Ebenezer Scrooge, inseparable from you…
And Daniel makes an excellent point; such hypocricy.