Law Enforcement Against Prohibition’s Neil Franklin – Interview

cross-posted from Sum of Change

On Friday, May 14th 2010, I got the chance to sit down with Neill Franklin, the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

Neill Franklin, LEAP’s incoming executive director, is a 32-year law enforcement veteran who spent more than two decades with the Maryland State Police (leading the drug division’s education and training) and then moved to Baltimore PD. Like a character from HBO’s “The Wire,” Neill could tell you stories of colleagues being gunned down in the line of fire, as he did in this Washington Post op-ed.

Full, Unedited Interview (highlight clips below the fold)

–Neill Franklin Shares His Story

To sum up: Mr Franklin is a 32-year law enforcement veteran. Many things he experienced doing that work led him to speak out against drug prohibition, but there were two events that really changed him. First off, he served on Mayor Kurt Schmoke’s Board for Needle Exchange in Baltimore. Mayor Schmoke was an advocate for rethinking our policies regarding the war on drugs. But it was not until 2000 when he lost a good friend named Edward Totely. Mr Totely was assassinated while making an undercover drug buy. That is when Mr Franklin began to examine the negative consequences of the war on drugs.

–On the Obama Administration’s Drug Policy

To sum up: Mr Franklin feels that President Obama’s “balanced new approach” is balanced in rhetoric only because two thirds of the money goes to enforcement (not including the costs of incarceration).

–On the Gateway Drug Theory

To sum up: Mr Franklin feels it is a fallacy and that cigarettes and alcohol are greater gateway drugs yet remain legal.

–Drug Laws and the Fourth Amendment

To sum up: Mr Franklin argues that the laws surrounding drugs create an environment where police are under pressure to search for drugs, which leads many officers to unintentionally push the limits of the law.

–The CA Ballot Initiative and the Federal Response

To sum up: Mr Franklin congratulates the people of California for putting this issue on the ballot, and encourages people to get involved with that campaign. As for the federal response, he has some concern that the federal government may try to “flex their muscles and go into California and start arresting people.” He says the federal government should allow that state to go ahead with control and regulation. “They should be bringing smart people together to figure out what the future policies will look like.”

–Law Enforcement Reaction to Franklin’s Work

To sum up: Mr Franklin finds that most law enforcement officials respond positively to his position.