law enforcement against prohibition leap Shelly Fox-Loken
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Support Law Enforcement Against Prohibition On ‘The Next Ten’

law enforcement against prohibition leap Shelly Fox-LokenI have always been very upfront that Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P.) is one of my favorite organizations on the planet. They present a compelling case for ending the war on drugs that other organizations cannot. That’s not to say that other organizations don’t do great work, because they certainly do, but there’s something extra to a message about ending the drug war when it comes from former and current members of law enforcement. Their message resonates with people that might otherwise not listen.

L.E.A.P. has a crowd funding effort right now via a project called ‘The Next Ten’, which is ‘helping incredible causes that will shape the next decade.’ Below is the message that L.E.A.P. posted on the crowd funding page. I encourage all readers to make a donation if they are able:

“The Remorseful Cop”

Jack Cole is a founding member of LEAP and a leader of the drug policy reform movement. He is a family man – a husband, father and grandfather. He is also a deeply remorseful cop who entered into a law enforcement career hoping to change the world and was ultimately filled with regret over his role in the “war on drugs” and the lives that were destroyed as a result.

One unforgettable chapter in my career began one night in a Paterson, New Jersey ghetto. I, accompanied by a police informant named “Fast Eddie,” drove up to three black teenage dealers hoping to purchase heroin. Not long after we pulled up, the three teens attempted to rob us and the encounter quickly escalated towards violence. Knives and guns were drawn, and while I was able to deescalate the incident without fatalities, Fast Eddie’s hand was sliced during the exchange and the three teens ran off. Luckily, another young black man approached our car to see if we needed help. He saw Fast Eddie’s bloody hand and offered to bring bandages.

He shared that he “hated drugs” and was “going to school” with plans to come back and put an end to the infiltration of drugs in his community. However, to complete my undercover mission that night, I still needed to make a hand-to-hand heroin buy, so, knowing he would be able to finger the local dealer, I told the young man I was sick and needed a fix bad. The young man reiterated his hate for drugs, but I kept pushing and he took pity on me. He led me to a dealer down the block and I was able to make my purchase.

About a month later, after I had bought heroin from roughly a hundred street dealers, a police raid was organized. At 5:00 AM, three hundred police officers swooped into Paterson, serving warrants to everyone from whom I had bought drugs, kicking down their doors and dragging them out in chains. There are too many arrests in the war on drugs for our court system to handle them all, so there’s a lot of pressure on defendants to take plea bargains rather than exercise their constitutional right to a fair trial (more than 90% of defendants currently plead out). As a result, the state police required undercover officers to be present when the accused dealers were booked so the defendants could see who was behind the arrest, and be more inclined to take a deal. I stood there and watched as dozens of people I had temporarily befriended realized I had deceived and betrayed them.

This was never easy – friendship is not a one-way street; in order to get these dealers to like me, I had to find something I liked in them. But this time sticks out in my head because as I was standing there, in walked the Good Samaritan, cuffed, barefoot, and still wearing his pajamas. He had been in my report, but I’d never imagined the department would have used it to arrest him. Upon seeing me, he realized what had happened and his eyes widened in surprise. His eyes never left mine as he walked down the hall, and when he came close to me, he stopped, his face inches from mine, and said quietly, “Man, I was only trying to be your friend.” He shook his head, “Only trying to be your friend.”
I don’t know what happened to him, but with a conviction record it would have been much more difficult for him to get student loans, it would have been more difficult for him to get a job. As dedicated as that young man was, as much as he wanted to save his community from the scourge of drug abuse, I doubt he was able to. Everything in his life changed that day. His potential, and that of his community, would never be the same. And it was because of me.

This story, and hundreds more like it, weighed heavily on me over time. In 2002, I began actively attending drug policy reform conferences looking for my opportunity to make a difference. After meeting other law enforcement professionals as disillusioned and angry as I was, the idea for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition was born. Beginning with just 5 cops, 12 years later LEAP is now recognized as a leader in drug policy reform, bringing unparalleled credibility to the drug policy reform movement, an international organization with more than 100,000 supporters.

Most importantly, drug laws and the perception of drug policy in this country – and around the world – are starting to change. In 2012, Colorado and Washington State became the first places in the world to legalize the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use. At the end of 2013, Uruguay followed by becoming the first country to legalize the marijuana trade. Momentum is building and people want change.

I am now 75 years old and I believe that in my lifetime I will see more states across the U.S. legalize marijuana. I also expect to see some countries around the world legalize all drugs as a means to end the unnecessary violence, loss of life, and misuse of funds brought on by the disastrous War on Drugs.

I can’t undo the past; but I’m working every day to change the unjust policies I once enforced. Recently, after one of my LEAP presentations, a mother whose son suffers from heroin addiction approached me. She called me a hero. I replied, “You don’t understand. I’m not a hero. I do this out of guilt.”

  • vickia52

    Mr. Cole, I believe that basically almost all cops go in to the force to be a hero to all of us. Sadly this doesn’t always work out that way. If all the cops would be able to do the real work, that was the real reason you became a police officer, everyone of you would be our heros. That’s all that we, as Americans wanted, decent cops doing the real work, protecting us, saving us, yes there are real bad people that us citizens need help with, time to time. We pot heads are just regular people. Thanks

    • HellNo

      Police have a lot of power over us. And people are attracted to power for different reasons. Too many police officers are just bullies with badges. And those that actually want to help people are often pressured to conform to the cruel, racist, and oppressive criminal justice system. It’s not enough to just reform our laws, we need to restructure the system to weed-out the bullies, racists, and idiots, that enjoy oppressing us.

      • You can’t weed them out. But you can make their numbers smaller.

        Every tax, every regulation comes with it an army of bureaucrats and behind that an army (with guns) of enforcers.

        • HellNo

          We need psychological testing to identify police applicants whose personalities are unsuitable for law enforcement. We need higher educational standards to hire police capable of dealing with 21st century crimes, like identity theft, and hacking. We need body cameras for increased supervision. And we need stricter standards of conduct, and discipline. We can weed- out the bad cops, and hire better ones.

          • The job requires dominating others. At the point of a gun if necessary. Best to have as few of them as you can.

  • Don’t forget to support Howard Wooldridge a co-founder of LEAP and our lobbyist in Congress.

    “Modern Prohibition/War on Drugs is the most destructive, dysfunctional and immoral policy since slavery & Jim Crow – Retired Police Detective Howard Wooldridge

    Citizens Opposing Prohibition

    Howard is also involved in the effort to get the UN on board with ending Prohibition. He speaks 3 (5?) languages fluently. He hosted a delegation from Germany that visited Colorado and Washington State.

  • Mike Johnson

    Cops enforce the law good or bad. Bad laws can make good cops do bad things, but bad cops love the bad things they do. Good laws help sort the bad cop from the good cop. Prohibition has turned cops from heroes to hated.