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