Former Police Officer, North Charleston (SC) Police Department
"I was active in enforcing the laws that damage people's lives, so I feel it is my responsibility to take an active part in fixing that damage."
David Clark was a police officer in uniform patrol in North Charleston, South Carolina from 2003 to 2010. He previously spent ten years in the U.S. Army as an infantry paratrooper, and he has advised, trained and mentored Afghan police forces. While a police officer, he spent time undercover as a narcotics/vice detective. He also worked in high-crime areas of the city and was a member of a HazMat team that responded to meth lab incidents.
While David has always been drawn to investigating crimes and training civilians, police and military on defensive tactics, he says he does not plan to re-enter law enforcement because of what he witnessed as an officer. “I’ve seen a shift in focus to aggressive enforcement of laws that are designed to deny individuals their liberty,” he says. “Initially, I thought we were using drug laws to keep bad guys off the streets and prevent other more serious crimes from occurring. But I realized that it was the prohibition of the drugs that was causing the black market to blossom and more violent crimes to occur, while drugs remained easier to get than ever.”
In his work enforcing drug laws, David has seen that arrests and convictions have hurt society instead of helping it. “I have seen several instances of a person being arrested and convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana, and then having their driver's license suspended because of it,” he explains. “This prevents them from getting a job and supporting their family. Many times these are teenagers or college students, with no criminal record, yet we turn them into criminals. I saw this constantly as a police officer.”
The militarization of police departments is also deeply disturbing to David. He explains, “More and more departments are militarizing their officers and using commando-type tactics to arrest people, including people with no history of violent crimes. Departments make mistakes and kick in the wrong doors, which puts officers and citizens both in danger. It creates an ‘us against them’ mentality of distrust and anger between citizens and officers.”