Presented by Stanford “Neill” Franklin, Police (Ret.) Executive Director, LEAP
“It pains me to know that there is a solution for preventing tragedy and nothing is being done because of ignorance, stubbornness, unsubstantiated fear and greed.”
Hear Neill Franklin, Executive Director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), speak on the problems and costs of the war on drugs, and the reasons society would be better off if it were ended.
Founded on March 16, 2002, LEAP is made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of our existing drug policies. Those policies have failed, and continue to fail, to effectively address the problems of drug abuse, especially the problems of juvenile drug use, the problems of addiction, and the problems of crime caused by the existence of a criminal black market in drugs.
Although those who speak publicly for LEAP are people from the law enforcement and criminal justice communities, a large number of our supporting members do not have such experience. You don’t have to have law enforcement experience to join us.
By continuing to fight the so-called “War on Drugs”, the US government has worsened these problems of society instead of alleviating them. A system of regulation and control of these substances (by the government, replacing the current system of control by the black market) would be a less harmful, less costly, more ethical and more effective public policy.
Please consider joining and helping us to achieve our goals: 1) to educate the public, the media and policy makers about the failure of current policies, and 2) to restore the public’s respect for police, which respect has been greatly diminished by law enforcement’s involvement in enforcing drug prohibition.
Major Neill Franklin is a 33-year law enforcement veteran of both the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police forces. His career has not only spanned three decades, but he’s been promoted and recruited so many times that he jokes, “Every time I turned around, I was in a new position.” He worked the streets. He investigated. He supervised and trained others. Neill oversaw 17 drug task forces, and he instituted and directed the very first Domestic Violence Investigative Units for the Maryland State Police.
Early in his career, Neill served as a narcotics agent with the Maryland State police, focusing on everything from high-level drug dealers in the Washington suburbs to that guy growing one pot plant on his apartment balcony. Neill was proud of his work and proud of the hundreds of arrests he executed. “I had been taught that the people who use and sell drugs are trash, and that we needed to put those people behind bars forever.”
Two people permanently changed his steadfast belief in fighting the drug war: the Mayor of Baltimore, and Ed Toatley, one of the best undercover agents the State of Maryland had ever seen.
Sometime in the mid nineties, Kurt Schmoke, the sitting mayor of Baltimore, declared on television that the drug war was not working. “We need to have a discussion about where we go from here,” Neill recalls him saying, “because the drug war is not working.” Schmoke put forth the reasoning that fighting a war on drugs was not only violent, but also counterproductive to fighting the high rates of AIDS and Hepatitis C in the city.
“I knew instantly,” Neill says, “that he had said something profound, and that this deserved some looking into.” This was the beginning of Neill’s new direction, and it started with researching and evaluating his own experiences in law enforcement. He compared the areas in his jurisdiction with the people and cases that came across his desk.
“We worked in predominantly white areas, but most of our cases and lock ups were minorities. There were only a couple of cases in the outlying areas that involved whites.”
Not too long after Schmoke’s announcement, Neill’s good friend, Corporal Ed Toatley, was killed in Washington, DC, while making a drug deal as an undercover agent.
“When Ed was assassinated in October 2000, that is when I really made the turn. That’s when I decided to go public with my views. I even contacted my police commissioner at the time and warned him that I was going to start speaking out on this. I didn’t want him to be blindsided.”
The institutionalized racism and cost of life to both civilians and police officers are just two of the many unintended consequences of our drug policy that keep Neill Franklin speaking for LEAP.
In July of 2010, Neill became executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Additionally, he volunteers his time by serving on many boards.
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