Wednesday, April 6th, 2011


Page 20 Articles & Editorials


By John A. Gayder, Founding Secretary, Law Enforcement Against ProhibitionAlthough readers of Free NY need no explanation of the many ways in which the war on drugs has actually made the problems associated to drug abuse worse and bored huge holes into the Bill of Rights while doing so, I can’t resist throwing out two NY State anecdotes to help set the tone of this article.

Back in 1978 a colleague of mine named Jack A. Cole was working for the New Jersey State Police. He participated in a joint forces drug bust in NYC that netted 19 pounds of drugs and $350K in cash. At the time it was the biggest seizure of Mexican Brown Heroin in US history. The story about the bust was on the front page of local and state papers for days. Fast forward 16 years later to 1994 and we find a lonely picture on page 23 of the NY Times showing Customs and DEA agents loading 4,800 pounds of seized cocaine onto a truck. Below the picture is a simple, two-line caption describing the bust in the same detail I gave in the previous sentence. No front page story ­ in fact no story at all. White powder seizures of this size had become commonplace despite spending millions of tax dollars and countless risks and losses to police and the communities they serve.

The waste, loss of freedom and inability to keep drugs out of America continues to this day. Last year, a bale of cannabis washed up on the shore of the Niagara River. The river forms the international border with Canada along the Buffalo/Niagara frontier. Stories of finding bales of cannabis washed up on shore first started 30 years ago when it occurred only on the infamous Florida peninsula. Now it is happening in your state. The war on drugs is not working.

When fighting for freedom and common sense it is easy to get discouraged. Everywhere we look it seems that the circle within which free people are supposed to be safe from interference by well intentioned “helpers” is shrinking. With the exception of the above New York anecdotes, I wont perpetuate bad morale by regaling you any more bad news about increased powers of search and seizure, or about the amount of your own tax money being used to keep you safe from yourself, or how bad drug abuse continues to get. Instead, I bring you what I think should be genuine good news. Something to make you smile, and to show you that activism can, and does work ­ not always immediately, but it works. Unfortunately, what I have to tell you will also sound a bit like a commercial.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an international organization made up of current and former members of law enforcement who believe the war on drugs is wrong and are speaking out about it, too.

The idea for LEAP originated with Peter Christ, a retired police captain from Tonawanda now living in Syracuse. Peter believed that an organization modeled after “Vietnam Veterans Against the War” would both catch the attention of the media and ring true to many other drug warriors who are questioning current U.S. drug policies. In 1998, Peter worked with Mark Greer, Director of DrugSense, to create an email listserv for current and former police officers interested in changing drug policy. Peter was joined in that endeavor by Jack Cole (mentioned above), a retired New Jersey state police lieutenant living in Massachusetts. At the beginning of 2002 Peter and Jack enlisted the help of myself and two other former police officers. Together we became the founding members and directors of LEAP. Since then we have been joined by several other officers.

To date we have spoken at hundreds of venues large and small including universities and colleges, civic, business, benevolent, and religious associations, and at public events. We have testified before government legislators in favor of drug-policy-reform bills and written countless articles for newspapers and periodicals on drug-policy reform. We have been on radio and TV. DARE officers challenge us to public debates but then back out after reading our website. We shame them into showing up and then philosophically kick their ass. Our law enforcement and civilian membership continues to grow.

In activism, progress is sometimes hard to find, but without the past consciousness raising efforts like those of the Libertarian Party ­ I would not have had the encouragement to speak out against the drug war, help start LEAP, nor would my opportunity to write here today ever have occurred. LEAP’s appearance in the arena of debate represents real progress in the quest for reform­ and libertarians can pat themselves on the back for helping to make it possible.

John A. Gayder is a currently serving police officer in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Visit the LEAP website at