Throughout the history of prohibition, lacking science and facts on their side, prohibitionists have tried to control the message, and suppress any attempts to talk about reform. There were even Congressional hearings discussing whether drug policy reformers could be prosecuted! For decades, many people legitimately thought that even talking about legalization could get them in trouble.
And in some places that really was true. One of the greatest voices for reform has been Law Enforcement Against Prohibition made up of (mostly retired) law enforcement officials, judges, etc. But it’s been hard for active LEOs to participate, even in their own time, simply because they’re often not allowed to by their job. That’s right – their employment doesn’t allow them to express their opinion about science and law in their own time.
David Bratzer is a friend to Drug WarRant, and was an active police officer who was an active member of LEAP, until the Victoria Police Department told him that he could no longer speak publicly or personally as a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Fortunately, Canadian courts have ruled on his behalf.
A Victoria police officer who won a human-rights complaint against the force says “on the ground” experience led him to support drug legalization – and he says he doesn’t think he’s alone on the force.
Constable David Bratzer was awarded $20,000 last week after the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled the Victoria Police Department violated his rights by preventing him from advocating for legalization. A civil-liberties group describes the ruling as precedent-setting.
An editorial in the Times Colonist was blunt: Editorial: Rights case wasted money
It can be difficult for some to accept that police officers might not agree with all of the laws they are being asked to enforce.
It is more difficult to accept the notion that a police department could discriminate against one of its officers because of his political beliefs that were not far removed from mainstream thinking.
What is most difficult of all is the realization that this case was allowed to go on for as long as it did, taking time and money that could have been spent on more important priorities.
The tribunal found that former police chief Jamie Graham was not in favour of drug legalization or decriminalization, and that played a partial role in the treatment of Bratzer on at least one occasion.
Let’s restate that: If Graham tried to gag Bratzer’s off-duty comments because he disagreed with Bratzer’s views, then Graham overstepped his position. That kind of management action is wrong.
It’s good to have David’s voice back!