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Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop exemplifies law enforcement self-interest trumping truth

February 26, 2014
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There’s a distinct buzz out there about this event: Annapolis police chief apologizes for citing hoax story in testimony against marijuana legalization

Testifying against bills proposed in Maryland to legalize and decriminalize marijuana, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop cited a hoax story that claimed 37 people died the first day marijuana was legalized in Colorado.

“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” Pristoop said in testimony at Tuesday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”

I remember when that satire piece came out as well. We joked about the gullible idiots on Twitter who actually thought that was somehow true.

Pristoop was immediately corrected by Senator Jamie Raskin, who was not a gullible idiot on Twitter.

Now, of course, people are trying to backtrack…

“After conducting additional research, it appears that was not accurate at all,” Pristoop said. “I believed at the time that was accurate. But I don’t think it takes away from the other facts we presented… I’m guilty of being a human being. I tried really hard to present verified facts.” [...]

Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides said he remains confident in Pristoop, whom he believed errored in his testimony. [...]
Pristoop’s focus on heroin enforcement may have influenced his comments in front of the Maryland General Assembly, Pantelides said.

“Clearly when you’re constantly dealing with a drug where people overdose, it’s probably in your head to think overdoses, drugs,” he said. “Again, it could have just been a slip of he said something he shouldn’t have.”[...]

Alderman Fred Paone, a member of the Annapolis City Council’s Public Safety committee, said he had not read the hoax article or Pristoop’s comments, but believed the police chief’s remarks were likely “a good faith mistake.”

“The guy is doing his job and frankly you get kind of intense when you’re in the middle of something,” Paone, R-Ward 2, said.

No.

Let’s be clear, here. This is not a good faith mistake. This is not a slip of the tongue.

This is the chief law enforcement officer of a major city claiming to be enough of an expert on a topic to actually testify in front of the Senate, with a goal of using his “facts” to justify continuing arresting people, and in the course of that testimony, actually and earnestly claims something so ridiculously false that any high school student would know it was parody.

Remember: Police Chief Michael Pristoop didn’t accidentally tweet it like those idiots we ridiculed. He used it in testimony in the State Senate.

This truly exemplifies the way that law enforcement has worked to corrupt the legislative process when it comes to marijuana. They’re not interested in facts, only ammunition. The truth about medical marijuana’s value, or the truth about the impact on marijuana’s use on society doesn’t matter to them a single bit, and so they don’t even care to learn it. All they care about is protecting their ability to use these unjust laws and their revenue stream that comes from marijuana enforcement.

And so they show up to testify at every legislative hearing (and what politician wants to go against law enforcement in uniform?) as they regurgitate canned talking points usually crafted by prohibitionists further up the food chain.

Police Chief Michael Pristoop got caught. And this should be brought up every time law enforcement officials show up to testify about why marijuana must remain illegal.

Again, it’s important to note that Pristoop represents a particular element of law enforcement that needs correction. His kind are not the only ones in the field.

I could sense the sadness in this tweet from Neil Franklin, who represents a lot of good cops as head of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:

Not much I can say about this embarrassing moment in Annapolis. Cops need to work with change, not against it. http://t.co/SE6ENZ5ZnZ

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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