By Luke Broadwater
5:24 PM EDT, June 22, 2011
Today, the message of Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore police commander, hit the floor of Congress.
That message: End the drug war.
Franklin, now the executive director of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, was cited by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) who took to the floor to condemn America's War on Drugs, which rages on in its 40th year. (Polis is one of six co-sponsors of a bill aimed at ending the federal law against marijuana possession.)
Here's Franklin's story of the death of Maryland State Police Cpl. Edward M. Toatley, as told by Polis on the floor of the House.
"Late in the evening of Oct. 30, 2000, Neil was awoken by the ringing of a telephone. As the commander of training for the Baltimore Police Department, late night calls weren't unusual. But this call was different. He was told that one of his officers had been shot and taken to the hospital. The officer was a corporal and a 15-year veteran and undercover narcotics agent for the Maryland State Police. He was assigned to a drug enforcement task force and, on that night, was making his final buy in Washington D.C. from a midlevel drug dealer. The dealer decided he wanted both the drugs and money for himself. He returned to the car the officer was driving, paused for a moment and shot the officer at point-blank range in the side of the head. Arriving to the hospital along with scores of family and friends, Neil was guided to the hospital room where the officer lay with his headband bloodied. Neil had to face the officer's wife and children and explain why their caretaker was no longer with them. Neil finished this story by writing, 'When the people are gone and quiet comes, so does the question, 'Why?'' Initially thinking of the covert operation, he rehashed the event. 'How could this happen?' 'What went wrong?' 'Why was the protocol?' But then I realized the questions I was asking dealt only with the symptoms of a much larger problem: The War on Drugs, the broken policy of drug prohibition."
Polis then used Franklin's story (combined with facts and statistics, e.g., "More arrests are made for marijuana possession than all violent crimes combined") to call for an end to the War on Drugs.
"After 40 years, it's time Congress put an end to the Drug War's 40 years of failure," he said.
Since his days with the Baltimore police and the Maryland State Police, Franklin's views are gaining more and more notice -- as shown by his influence on policy-makers today.
Watch Polis' speech below.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun