Why Growing Numbers of Police Are Slamming Drug Prohibition - Page 3

By Tony O'Neill 06/14/11
For decades, police were convinced that total prohibition was the only way to end America's deadly drug wars. Now thousands of cops are not only having second thoughts but actually taking to the streets in protest.
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A rapidly-growing voice in the drug law debate, LEAP represents 50,000 people worldwide, including “a few thousand who are cops, judges, prosecutors and corrections officials. That’s one of the areas where we’re trying to grow, and when we speak to law enforcement one-on-one, most of them agree with us more than they disagree. But it’s difficult, because it’s hard for anyone to accept that most of what we have done in our career has really meant nothing in terms of actually solving the drug problem. Not only that, but the actions we’ve taken have often been detrimental to our communities in one way or another? That’s a bitter pill for a lot of people to swallow.”

As unpopular as it might be with sections of his own community, Neill Franklin has made it a personal mission to get this message out. A frequent guest of news panel discussions, he is almost guaranteed to wrong-foot even the most ardent prohibitionist.  Intelligent, well-presented and eloquent, he also speaks with compelling moral authority. After all, this is a man who risked his life for decades fighting this war. He has been responsible for countless arrests and had a hand in taking down several criminal organizations. When someone like Neill Franklin turns around after 33 years and tells you that this thing isn’t working, only a fool—or a politician—would disregard his testimony.

Those of us who agree that prohibition has been a failure can sometimes get sucked into pessimism. The idea that things will not change—so why bother?—can be seductive. But when you speak to a man who has lost friends in this war and is still willing to risk alienating his old comrades by speaking out, it’s hard not to feel inspired.

“You can say what you want about why we don’t change our drugs laws,” Franklin muses, after we talk about how hard it can be to change hearts and minds, “and sure, we always here a lot of stuff from the other side about how we do this to save the children or whatever, but the simple reason is this: too many people are making literally billions from the illicit drug trade. And believe me, it’s not those young men standing out on the corners who are making it. They are the ones getting the least of what’s being generated.  If we were really serious about helping our kids and our communities, we’d put our energies into education and treatment, and teach people, so they make the right decisions, period.” 

Tony O'Neill is the author of several novels, including Digging the Vein and Down and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie).  He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. O'Neill has interviewed Jerry Stahl and argued against abstinence, among many other stories he's done for The Fix.

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Tony O'Neill, a regular contributor to The Fix, is the author of several novels, including Digging the VeinDown and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie). He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. You can follow Tony on Twitter.

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