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Help defend pro-legalization cop’s free speech

By admin | March 3, 2010

Active duty police officer David Bratzer was planning to accept an invitation to speak about drug policy and harm reduction at an official city government-sponsored event…until his police department’s
leadership stepped in and ordered him not to show up.

Bratzer, a vocal “drug war” critic active with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), has served the Victoria Police Department in British Columbia, Canada for four years, and he has spoken up publicly about drug policy on many occasions, including in front of a Canadian Senate committee. He is always clear in saying that his views do not represent the department’s, and he only practices his activism while he is off-duty.

If you think the police department’s censorship is unfair, please add
your name to LEAP’s petition at to show your support for
cops like David who speak out against unjust and ineffective drug
polices even while they risk their lives enforcing them.

Thanks so much for your support,

Tom Angell, Media Relations Director
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Washington, D.C.
phone: (202) 557-4979 // e-mail:
AIM: ThisIsTomAngell // GChat: tomangell

Videos of LEAP cops:
LEAP on Twitter:
LEAP on Facebook:

The BC Civil Liberties Association is also supporting LEAP and asking the Victoria Police to clarify their position:

BCCLA complaint wants police free speech policy defined

Vancouver, B.C. – An allegation that a Victoria Police Department police officer has been ordered not to discuss harm reduction at an upcoming drug policy conference has caused the BCCLA to file a policy complaint with the Victoria Police Board. The complaint asks the Board to define an off-duty speech policy for officers in line with Charter free speech values.

“Police officers from Vancouver speak regularly on drug policy, often contradicting official VPD policy,” said Jason Gratl, Vice-President of the BCCLA. “We’re not sure why Victoria’s policy would be different. Both departments are governed by the same Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

In 2007, Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officer John McKay criticized the four pillar approach to drug policy in Vancouver in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, calling it “a failed social experiment.” At the time the VPD supported, and still currently supports, the four pillar approach. The BCCLA is not aware of any discipline or limits imposed on Mr. Mckay.

In 2008, a complaint was filed against VPD officer Mark Steinkampf for criticizing the Insite safe injection site in the media, contrary to VPD policy, while in uniform and on duty. The complaint resulted in the following finding by the VPD senior management investigator:

. . . Sergeant Steinkampf’s expression of what were clearly his personal views did not constitute a disciplinary default under the Police Act. . . there are many examples of members publicly expressing opinions at variance with VPD policy.

“When Chief Graham worked in Vancouver, he tolerated members speaking out against official policy on drug issues,” notes Gratl. “We hope he and the Victoria Police Board will investigate our concerns and assure the public that they support free speech on critical matters of public policy for their off-duty officers.”

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