Retired Narcotics Officer and Military Police Officer
"For every drug dealer we arrested, I saw two take his place."
Dave Doddridge got into law-enforcement unintentionally, being drafted into the army in 1970, where he served as a military policeman. He didn't care for the military, but the policing part worked for him, and so in 1973 he began a 21-year career with the LAPD. "I took pride in being a cop," Dave recalls. "I felt I was doing something good." However, his duties for the last five of those years were in narcotics, and that was a different story entirely. "I became aware of the terrible effects of the drug war," he says. "We put a lot of people in prison who I felt didn't really belong there. I saw the disappointment and pain on the faces of families whose houses we ransacked to get at a son's drugs. I saw the injustice of Asset Forfeiture laws. I saw that increases in law-enforcement staffing were to no avail."
Dave has also been on the other side of the "War on Drugs," as two of his six children were nearly casualties. "They experimented with marijuana," he relates. "I saw the law-enforcement problems they were having that almost landed them in jail. I knew that jail was no place for them and that their lives would be made so much worse [had they been incarcerated]." Not surprisingly, Dave reports that the marijuana use itself did not prevent his kids from becoming responsible adults and did not scar them -- as jail certainly would have done.
Dave feels that ending the "War on Drugs" would have many serious benefits for the United States. For starters, it would improve the nation's moral climate. "Respect for the law would increase when realistic laws are in place. It would also lower the crime rate -- particularly in terms of drug-related theft." He notes that ending prohibition would also help our economy ("The 'War on Drugs' is an economic boondoggle") and reduce corruption within our government. Things would also improve outside of our borders. "Ending prohibition would be a real boon to international relations with some South American countries," he testifies, "as crime would greatly diminish in countries such as Colombia."
All Dave hopes to do via his involvement in LEAP is "maybe make a dent" in the huge problem of prohibitionism. "I became a cop to help people, not to hurt them," he says -- but the laws he was enjoined to enforce got in the way. Now, however, he has no such barriers. "I just want to help."