When he’s working, Epping Police Officer Bradley Jardis is just like any other cop.
He’s patrolling the streets to catch people with drugs because that’s what he’s supposed to do.
But when he’s off the clock, this 28-year-old officer is speaking publicly about why he believes existing drug policies have failed and why it’s time for lawmakers to legalize drugs.It’s an unusual position to take for a police officer charged with enforcing laws, but Jardis insists that prohibiting drugs leaves the dealers in control, creating a dangerous black market that breeds crime and gives kids easy access.
Jardis believes drugs should be regulated by the government just like alcohol. “We treat alcoholism as a public health problem, but we treat drug addiction as a criminal problem, and that’s wrong,” he said.
And he’s not the only officer who feels this way.
Jardis, of Hooksett, is among a growing number of current and former New Hampshire law enforcement officers and others in criminal justice who have joined a Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP.
Rick Van Wickler, superintendent of the Cheshire County Department of Corrections, joined LEAP in late 2007, and Ron White, superintendent of the Merrimack County Department of Corrections, came aboard about a month ago.
LEAP’s membership in New Hampshire has now grown to 132, with as many as 20 new members joining in the past three months, according to Tom Angell, the group’s media relations director.
LEAP, which began in 2002 with five founding members, now has more than 11,000 members in 90 countries.
Is it hopeless or will it happen…eventually?