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Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is a non-profit, international, educational organization comprising former and current police officers, government agents and other law enforcement agents who oppose the current War on Drugs.[1][2] LEAP was founded on March 16, 2002. It is modeled after Vietnam Veterans Against the War, an organization which earned its credibility by utilizing speakers who had been on the frontlines of the war they later denounced. Incorporated on March 16, 2002, with five members, LEAP now claims to have more than 10,000 members but does not disclose how many of those are sworn law enforcement officers.[2] There are 85 speakers living in thirty-eight different states in the United States and eight other countries.[3] LEAP now has members in 86 countries.[2]

Contents

Goals

The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harms resulting from fighting the War on Drugs and to lessen the rates of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition.[4]

LEAP has two primary goals:

  • To educate the public, the media and policymakers about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug use and the elevated crime rates more properly related to drug prohibition than to drug pharmacology.
  • To restore the public's respect for law enforcement, which has been greatly diminished by its involvement in imposing drug prohibition.[4]

LEAP's main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly growing speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on police/community relations, the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects, police corruption and misconduct, and the excessive financial and human costs associated with current drug polices.

Board of Directors

LEAP’s Board of Directors is made up of Jack Cole, who retired as a lieutenant after 26 years in the New Jersey state police—14 years in their narcotic bureau; Jerry Cameron, a retired Chief of two Florida towns; Peter Christ a retired police captain from Tonawanda, New York; John Gayder a currently serving police officer with a department in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada; Terry Nelson, a Federal Agent in Border Patrol, US Customs and Homeland Security; and Howard Wooldridge a former police detective from a department in Michigan. Jack Cole is the executive director.[1]

Speakers Bureau

All of LEAP's speakers are current or former drug-warriors. Police, parole, probation, and corrections officers, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, and FBI and DEA agents participate in LEAP activities. LEAP speakers speak at rotary clubs, conferences, forums, and events on high school and college campuses which are often organized by chapters of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. LEAP is a tax exempt, international, non-profit organization, educational entity based in the United States modeled after "Vietnam Veterans Against the War". Veterans brought credibility to their cause when speaking out to end the Vietnam War, and LEAP has tried to achieve the same credibility when its former drug-warriors speak out against the War on Drugs. LEAP's message demands the attention of the media and resonates with members of the public and law enforcement who question current U.S. drug policies.

Membership

Membership in LEAP is open to anyone but only current or former members of law enforcement can be board members or public speakers for LEAP. LEAP has members and supporters across the United States and in fifty-six other countries.

Legalization vs. Decriminalization

LEAP is a drug law reform organization that believes legalized regulation is the only ethical and efficient way to undo the damage caused by the War on Drugs. Legalized regulation would result in a system in which the sale and distribution of drugs is regulated by a government body similar to the regulation of alcohol and tobacco, thereby inhibiting, and eventually removing, the criminal monopoly on the sale of current illicit drugs.

LEAP does support incremental change, which the organization believes ultimately betters the lives of United States citizens. LEAP has supported bills which would decriminalize up to one ounce of marijuana, legalize medical marijuana, and implement harm reduction strategies in communities. According to LEAP, their support for incremental change does not conflict with their stance on legalization because they see these steps as means to an end, not ends in themselves.

Video

LEAP released a twelve minute promotional DVD to provide further insight into the organization's perspective and role in drug reform.

"Anyone concerned about the failure of our $69 billion-a-year War on Drugs should watch this 12-minute program. You will meet front line, ranking police officers who give us a devastating report on why it cannot work. It is a must-see for any journalist or public official dealing with this issue." -- Walter Cronkite.[5]

Publicity

Twelve members of LEAP's Speakers Bureau were profiled in a documentary film titled Damage Done: The Drug War Odyssey directed by Connie Littlefield and produced by Ann Bernier and Ken Martin. The film first aired on Global TV in Canada in 2006.[6]

See also

References

External links








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