Cops Against the Drug War

When Jack Cole began working as an undercover narcotics officer
for the New Jersey State Police in the early 1970’s, his
supervisors pushed him to generate arrests in order to stimulate
‘massive new funding in law enforcement.’ Although drugs were a
relatively small problem at the time, Officer Cole and his
colleagues routinely lied to exaggerate the situation, reports Nina
Shapiro of Seattle Weekly. Drug users were labeled as
dealers; officers tampered with evidence, adding ‘lactose, quinine,
baby powder, almost anything’ to turn ounces into pounds of
cocaine. Eventually the problem became ‘bad enough on its own,’ and
the cops no longer needed to exaggerate.

Fourteen years later, Cole realized that his work was destroying
the lives of the people he arrested, while doing little to reduce
the escalating violent crimes related to drug dealing. ‘Eighty-five
percent of the crime associated with drugs is not associated with
the people using drugs,’ says former New York State Police officer
Peter Christ. Instead, it is a result of the marketplace and its
politics. Nonetheless, law enforcement has implemented stricter
sentencing on drug users — a strategy that many in the legal
system feel is a ‘lost cause.’

Last year Cole became the executive director and spokesman for
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a national organization
Peter Christ founded to lobby for drug legalization. Modeled after
Vietnam Vets Against the War. LEAP and its 500 members nationwide
include police, parole, and probation officers, federal agents,
prosecutors and judges. The organization argues that the only way
for illegal drugs to truly become ‘controlled substances’ is to
subject them to federal regulations similar to those imposed on
alcohol and tobacco. Such regulations would allow the government to
license and monitor businesses while setting standards and
practices that would prevent most overdoses, while removing the
huge profits and violence associated with their illicit
trade.
Erin Ferdinand

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The Drug Issue: Cops Against the Drug War

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