"The regulation of drugs should be handled by the health department, not law enforcement."
Nate Bradley spent almost seven years in his dream job as a police officer, first serving in the small police department of Wheatland, CA, then as a deputy for the Sutter County Sheriff. He decided he wanted to be a cop when he was a young boy and a local deputy sheriff helped him after he was assaulted by neighborhood bullies. After graduating from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Academy in 2002, Nate was hired by the Wheatland police department in Yuba county, where he was responsible for everything from background investigations to working on the multiagency gang task force. The majority of his law enforcement career was spent working with local communities and neighborhoods to reduce crime and address community problems. He loved police work, but being witness to the consequences of drug prohibition made him seriously question how arresting people for possession of drugs made society safer.
Nate says enforcing drug laws is dangerous for police and cites the mandatory minimum laws as a culprit. "When someone is a third striker [under California's three-strikes law] and is going to prison for 25 years to life, he or she is more likely to pull out a gun as I walk up to the car." He also believes a system of legalized and regulated drugs will increase the safety of people addicted to drugs. "Our neighborhoods are filled up with addicts. As long as they're considered criminals, we're not going to be able to help them."
Nate says the most obvious and massive cost of drug prohibition is the huge financial drain on society, which costs us resources in ways most people don't even understand. That's why he is excited to speak for LEAP -- to get out the word about this failed public policy and make society safer.
Nate remembers the first time he came across the LEAP website and thought, 'these guys are nuts wanting to legalize all drugs.' "Now," he says, "I understand it. Back then, the thought of blanket legalization and regulation had not even occurred to me. The way I was taught, there are always going to be drug users, and there will always be cops chasing drug users. You are never led to believe there is another option." He likens his new perspective to the movie, "The Matrix." "You get unplugged from the matrix," he says. "You've been thinking the world is a certain way your whole life, then you get unplugged and you can never go back."
Nate grew up in Sacramento in a large family. His father was a pastor. Nate is married to Sarah and they have one child, about whom Nate says, "I can chase criminals and kick in doors, but nothing is as tiring as parenting a two-year-old boy."