|Officer David Bratzer: “I will try to find other venues to present my views about drug policy”|
The BC Civil Liberties Association has filed a complaint against the Victoria Police Department for muzzling one of its officers, reports ‘A’ News.
Constable David Bratzer was scheduled to speak at a harm reduction meeting in Victoria Wednesday night representing the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
Bratzer says the War On Drugs is not winnable and is doing more harm than good.
But the Chief of the Victoria Police Department doesn’t want Bratzer to share those views.
The department claims “people would be confused” if Bratzer spoke on an issue of public policy. Victoria P.D. believes people would not be able to distinguish between Bratzer’s opinions and department policy.
The police department didn’t explain why those same people wouldn’t be confused by Bratzer’s appearances in YouTube videos and his comments in newspaper interviews.
“I will not be attending this event, but I would like to thank the City of Victoria for the invitation to be part of an honest and open discussion about harm reduction,” Bratzer said. “I will try to find other venues to present my views about drug policy.”
Bratzer has always taken pains to make clear that his opinions are his own and do not reflect the views of the police department, according to LEAP. He has in the past year participated in a number of credible venues related to drug policy, including testifying to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in Ottawa (see the video from LEAP here).
“The voices of front-line officers who are charged with enforcing the drug laws are incredibly important to the public debate on drug policy issues,” said Jack Cole, a retired American undercover narcotics detective who is executive director for LEAP.
“Preventing an officer from sharing his firsthand perspective about the harms of our current drug laws with policymakers is a disservice to the entire democratic process,” Cole said.
LEAP is hosting an online petition where people who think such censorship is unfair can add their names to show support for cops like David who speak out against unjust and ineffective drug policies, even while they risk their lives enforcing them.