Saturday, December 23, 2006

Former cop plans to sell "how-to" video to drug smugglers

A former police officer in the east Texas town of Tyler is preparing to sell a video which teaches people how to conceal drugs from police searches.
Barry Cooper, who has worked for small police departments in East Texas, plans to launch a website next week where he will sell his video, "Never Get Busted Again," the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported in its online edition Thursday.

A promotional video says Cooper will show viewers how to "conceal their stash," "avoid narcotics profiling" and "fool canines every time."

Cooper, who said he favors the legalization of marijuana, made the video in part because he believes the nation's fight against drugs is a waste of resources. Busting marijuana users fills up prisons with non-violent offenders, he said.

"My main motivation in all of this is to teach Americans their civil liberties and what drives me in this is injustice and unfairness in our system," Cooper told the newspaper.

Cooper is not the first law enforcement officer, active or retired, to speak out against the "War on Drugs." In fact, there is an entire organization of law enforcement officials who feel that the "War on Drugs" is a tremendous waste of time and money that fills our prisons with nonviolent drug offenders yet which does little to actually curtail the use of drugs in this country. Cooper, however, is taking his prinicpled opposition to the "War on Drugs" a step further with his video, and that has, naturally, upset others:
News of the video has angered authorities, including Richard Sanders, an agent with the Tyler Drug Enforcement Agency. Sanders said he plans to investigate whether the video violates any laws.

"It outrages me personally as I'm sure it does any officer that has sworn an oath to uphold the laws of this state, and nation," Sanders said. "It is clear that his whole deal is to make money and he has found some sort of scheme, but for him to go to the dark side and do this is infuriating."
I'd probably be outraged if I were Agent Sanders as well, because this video certainly make his job any easier. (Of course, given that the DEA only interdicts a fraction of the illegal drugs headed into the United States in spite of its $14 billion annual budget and has no appreciable affect on the nation's drug use rates, it's rather obvious that Agent Sanders and his fellow agents aren't doing a very good job to begin with...) However, it's clear that there will be a lot of opposition to Cooper's video; Sanders' plan to investigate the video once it comes out suggests that a legal fight is probably inevitable.

Without knowing the actual content of the video, it's hard to say which way such a fight would go: while one person might see the video as an instructional which shows people how to protect their ever-eroding Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, another might see the video as a "tips of the trade" tutorial for drug smugglers engaging in illegal activity. It sounds like Cooper's video is going to be the latter as much as the former, and, while I sympathize fully with Cooper's opinions regarding the farcical "War on Drugs," it would be hard for me to support a product that essentially teaches people how to be lawbreakers.

However, even if Cooper's video never sees the light of day, his aggressive expression against the "War on Drugs" will hopefully bring more attention to the fact that it is a wasteful failure. When former police officers - the folks on the front line of the "War on Drugs" - are telling you that it's not working, maybe it's time for us to start listening.

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