David Bratzer | LEAP | Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

About David Bratzer


"Police officers in Canada have a common-law duty to protect life and property, and drug prohibition makes that more difficult."

David Bratzer
David Bratzer wanted a steady job that would both provide for his family and allow him to connect with his community of Victoria, British Columbia. With two brothers already working for the police department, the choice was self-evident. And David loves being a police officer. It's just that he sees that some of the laws he is asked to enforce do not help his community and really are unrelated to what the police ought to be doing. Almost all of those laws fall under one heading: drug prohibition.

David has no trouble enumerating societal improvements that would result from ending the "War on Drugs": safer communities because of the reduction in drug- and gang-related violence; a shift in law enforcement priorities into areas that historically were ignored or underfunded and what he terms a "peace dividend" of economic growth, revitalized downtown neighborhoods, decreased healthcare spending, and a better relationship between law enforcement and the public.

The final step on David's journey to enlisting actively in the fight against prohibition came as he followed the 2007 murder trial of Willie Pickton in Vancouver, who to date has been convicted of murdering six women and is awaiting trial for the killings of 20 others. All of Pickton's victims were drug-addicted prostitutes, and David can't help thinking that "if this country had sensible drug laws some or all of these women might still be alive. Women should not have to resort to street prostitution-and all of the risk that entails-in order to fund a drug addiction." That is what comes of criminalizing drug use.

David struggled with the decision to speak out publicly about ending prohibition. He knew as an active duty officer his decision would prompt additional scrutiny at work. So why did David decide to speak out? With a simple elegance he will tell you, "I am saying in public what many of my peers have said to me in private. I have a lot of respect for my fellow officers but I felt it was important to speak up. I feel strongly about this issue and I didn't want to have any regrets at the end of my career." By his example, he is confident that other officers who feel likewise will step out of the shadows and help LEAP to end prohibition.

* The opinions expressed by Dave Bratzer do not reflect the official position of his employer. The appearance of the name "Victoria Police Department" solely constitutes biographical background information and should not be construed in any way as an endorsement of LEAP by the Victoria Police Department."

PUBLICATION: The failure of drug prohibition: A law enforcement perspective

Victoria, B.C.

Police Constable

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