Founded on March 16, 2002, LEAP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization 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 us 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 has been greatly diminished by law enforcement’s involvement in enforcing drug prohibition.
|LEAP’s Board of Directors||LEAP’s Advisory Board
For four decades the US has fueled its policy of a “war on drugs” with over a trillion tax dollars and increasingly punitive policies. More than 39 million arrests for nonviolent drug offenses have been made. The incarcerated population quadrupled over a 20-year period, making building prisons the nation’s fastest growing industry. More than 2.3 million US citizens are currently in prison or jail, far more per capita than any country in the world. The US has 4.6 percent of the population of the world but 22.5 percent of the world’s prisoners. Each year this war costs the US another 70 billion dollars. Despite all the lives destroyed and all the money so ill spent, today illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent, and much easier to access than they were at the beginning of the war on drugs, 40 years ago. Meanwhile, people continue dying on the streets while drug barons and terrorists continue to grow richer, more powerful, better armed.
Not one of the stated US drug policy goals of lowering the incidence of crime, addiction, drug availability, or juvenile drug use, has been achieved. Instead, our approach has magnified these problems by creating a self-perpetuating, ever-expanding policy of destruction, yet the US still insists on continuing the war and pressuring other governments to perpetuate these same unworkable policies. The drug war wreaks havoc, funds terrorism, and causes major corruption around the globe. This is the very definition of a failed public policy. This madness must cease!
With this in mind, current and former members of law enforcement have created a drug policy reform group called LEAP. Supporters of LEAP believe that to save lives and lower the rates of disease, crime and addiction, as well as to conserve tax dollars, we must end drug prohibition. LEAP believes a system of regulation and control is far more effective than one of prohibition.
LEAP is a tax exempt, international, nonprofit, educational entity based in the United States that was modeled on Vietnam Veterans Against the War and enjoys the same unassailable credibility when speaking out against this war.
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, including 14 years in their narcotic bureau; Peter Christ, a retired police captain from Tonawanda, New York; Jim Gierach, former Chicago prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office; Terry Nelson, who served in the US Border Patrol, the US Customs Service, and the Department of Homeland Security; Tony Ryan, a retired police officer from Denver, Colorado; Judge (ret) Maria Karam who, after decades of judicial experience in Brazil, has written several books on the failures of the drug prohibition; David Bratzer, an active duty officer in Victoria, British Columbia; Captain Leigh Maddox (ret.) Maryland State Police, currently Visiting Assistant Professor and Supervising Attorney with the University of Maryland School of Law; and Deputy Chief Stephen Downing (ret.), a twenty-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The LEAP Advisory Board is composed of esteemed current and former members of law enforcement listed on the LEAP masthead.
Our executive director is Major Neil Franklin (ret.), a 33-year law enforcement veteran who was commander for the Education and Training Division and the Bureau of Drug and Criminal Enforcement in the Maryland State Police.
Membership in LEAP is open to anyone, but only current or former members of law enforcement can be board members or public speakers for LEAP.
We have enjoyed explosive growth. In eleven years we have expanded from five founding police officers to include nearly 100,000 supporters including police, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, FBI and DEA agents, and civilian supporters of drug policy reform. LEAP has a bureau of more than 150 speakers and membership in 190 countries. 2013 has proved to be our busiest to date: in the first six months of the year, our number of presentations saw a 65% increase over the first six months of 2012. And August of 2013 was the busiest month in our eleven year history, with 215 presentations in a single month.
LEAP presents to civic, professional, educational, and religious organizations, as well as at public forums. We target civic groups such as Chambers of Commerce, Rotaries, Lions and Kiwanis Clubs. The people in these organizations are conservative folks who before, but not after, our presentations, mostly agree with the drug-warriors that we must continue the war on drugs at any cost. They are also solid members of their communities who belong to civic organizations because they want the best for their locales. Every one of them will be voting in every election. Many are policy-makers and if they are not, they are the people who can pull the coat tails of policy-makers and say, “We have someone you must hear talk about drug policy.” Our reception at such main street venues throughout the country has been remarkable.
After countless presentations, including staffing booths at six conventions of the National Conferences of State Legislatures and three conventions of the American Legislative Exchange Council, we have discovered that the vast majority of participants in those audiences agree that the war on drugs is a failure. Increasingly, legislators are quietly approaching us to see how we can work together. As we continue to show these legislators that they won’t lose one more vote than they will gain by backing drug policy reform, they will end drug prohibition.
Our speakers in California made hundreds of presentations promoting drug policy reform in support of Proposition 19 in 2010. We helped convince the National Latino Officers Association and the National Black Police Association to support Prop 19 and became, as the LA Times put it, “the face of Proposition 19.” We are excited by the fact that this proposition garnered over 4.5 million voters.
In 2012, LEAP played a pivotal role in successful marijuana legalization campaigns in Colorado with Amendment 64 and in Washington State with Initiative 502. LEAP’s speakers were a driving force in both campaigns, as post-election polling showed that retired police and law enforcement professionals were the most visible and influential group voters saw publicly supporting the Colorado and Washington initiatives.
The more supporters we have, the stronger our call for change. So please consider clicking “Join Us” to receive our emails and action alerts.
LEAP does not release names or contact information of any supporter, with the exception of board members, speakers, staff or public volunteers helping with the administration of the organization. Anonymity is guaranteed to anyone who chooses to support us anonymously. If you wish to participate actively and publicly in drug policy reform, we are in need of people around the globe who will spread our message and help recruit more members. There is strength in numbers. By publicly declaring your advocacy for using common sense in formulating drug policy, you will encourage others to do the same. Before long, people who share our desire for change will be contacting you to form local networks and alliances.
To view a LEAP video: Click Here
“Anyone concerned about the failure of our $69 billion-a-year War on Drugs should watch this 12-minute program. You will meet front line, ranking police officers who give us a devastating report on why it cannot work. It is a must-see for any journalist or public official dealing with this issue.”
– Walter Cronkite