Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is a 501(c)3 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. LEAP was founded on March 16, 2002 by five police officers. 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. LEAP now has more than 100,000 members and supporters, approximately 5,000 of whom are from law enforcement, though many choose to remain anonymous. There are 148 speakers living in thirty-five different states in the United States and sixteen other countries. As of January 2014 LEAP has members and supporters in 190 countries.
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.
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.
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.
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 and was instrumental in the passage of initiatives to legalize marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. 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.
In 2014, LEAP drafted and disseminated its "Proposed Amendment of United Nations Drug Treaties -- 2014," a comprehensive amendment that would displace much of the United Nations 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and all its drug schedules, repeal the 1971 Convention On Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, and replace them all with a single amended and consolidated treaty. The proposed amended treaty, to be called "The 2016 Single Convention on Drugs", would vest primary control and regulation of illicit drugs and abused licit drugs in the hands of individual sovereign nations within a cooperative yet voluntary international framework; expand the scope of regulated and controlled mind-altering substances to include alcohol and tobacco; and allow experimentation with new drug policies that encouraged health and harm-reduction strategies on a national and regional basis, consonant with individual freedom and "The [United Nations] Universal Declaration of Human Rights," displacing the prohibition, criminalization, top-down, one-size-fits-all existing UN drug policy paradigm. In March 2014, LEAP sent its Proposed Amendment of UN Drug Treaties to world leaders and every signatory nation encouraging support, signature and filing of the LEAP draft of amended treaty, or one like it, with the UN Secretary-General to start the ball rolling toward specific and concrete reform at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS 2016) regarding world drug policy.
Membership in LEAP is open to anyone but only current or former members of law enforcement are eligible to be public speakers for LEAP. As of January 2014 LEAP has members and supporters in 190 countries.
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; Peter Christ, a retired police captain from Tonawanda, New York; Terry Nelson, a former federal agent in Border Patrol, US Customs and Homeland Security; James E. Gierach, a former assistant state's attorney of Cook County, Illinois; David Bratzer, a Canadian police officer; Stephen Downing, former deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department; Diane Goldstein, retired lieutenant commander from the Redondo Beach Police Department; Maria Lucia Karam, retired judge in Brazil; Alice Huffman, President of the California State NAACP; Annie Machon, former British Secret Service Intelligence Officer; Tony Ryan, retired police officer from Denver, Colorado; Leigh Maddox, Special Assistant State's Attorney and Retired Maryland State Police Captain. Neill Franklin, retired Maryland State Police major, serves as LEAP's executive director.
The advisory board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition consists of Romesh Bhattacharji, former drug czar (India); Vince Cain, former Chief Coroner of British Columbia and retired RCMP chief superintendent (Canada); Senator Larry Campbell, former mayor of Vancouver and retired RCMP officer (Canada); retired Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Crispin (Australia), Member of Parliament Libby Davies (Canada); Carel Edwards, former anti-drug coordinator for the European Union; U.S. District Court Judge Warren William Eginton; Gustavo de Greiff, former Attorney General of Colombia; Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico; Judge John L. Kane Jr., United States District Court for the District of Colorado; Justice Ketil Lund, retired Supreme Court Justice from Norway; Sheriff Bill Masters, Colorado; Joseph McNamara, retired police chief of the San Jose Police Department; Norm Stamper, retired police chief of the Seattle Police Department; Eric Sterling, president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation; Thomas P. Sullivan, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert W. Sweet, Senior Judge of the US District Court Southern District of New York; Hans van Dujin, retired Dutch police union president (the Netherlands); Francis Wilkinson, former Chief Constable of the Gwent Police Force (United Kingdom).
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.
Pro-legalization police officers, judges, prosecutors and other criminal justice professionals who speak for LEAP are regularly featured in news media.
LEAP released an eight minute promotional DVD aimed at providing further insight into the organization's perspective and role in drug reform.