Jack Cole, a former anti-narcotics policeman and a founding member of LEAP visited Central-Europe
Jack Cole is the former Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – an organization made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of our existing drug policies. Cole retired as a Detective Lieutenant after a 26-year career with the New Jersey State Police. For fourteen of those years Cole worked as an undercover narcotics officer. A few years ago the HCLU invited Jack to visit Budapest, Hungary, where he met with key officials from the national police and the government, he made several powerful speeches and gave interviews to the national media. Inspired by this succesful trip we decided that in 2010 we invite Jack to Europe again – this time to visit three other countries, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.
The goal was to stir the still water of public discourses on drug policy in Central-Europe – and we think Jack made a good job as usual.
In Prague Jack attended the “Urban Drug Policies in a Globalized World” conference, where he was one of the key speakers of a session on law enforcement (“The Police And Policing: How we plan and evaluate police activities and what we learn from it”). He gave interviews to local journals and trained Jiří Stuna, Chief Constable of the City Police Skuteč to be a speaker of LEAP in the Czech Republic.
A video interview with Jack Cole – with Polish subtitles
Jack Cole speaks at the Warsaw University
On 5 October he arrived to Warsaw, Poland, where he had a public debate at the University of Warsaw with Jacek Wrona, a former police commissioner. The title of the debate was “Two Jack’s Debate on Drug Policy”. His local host was Agnieszka Sieniawska of the Polish Drug Policy Network, who arranged simultaneous translation for the audience. The Polish Drug Policy Network displayed an artistic installation at the university – this installation aims to raise awareness on the criminal sanctions for smoking/growing cannabis. During his visit Jack met with a retired police officer, Leszek Wieczorek from the city of Bielsko-Blata, who volunteered to be a LEAP speaker in Poland. On 6 October Jack was invited to speek at the event of the Inspiratornia Foundation, his speech was filmed by the Channel 1 Polish TV.
In Bucharest Valentin Simionov of the Romanian Harm Reduction Network hosted Jack who made a public lecture at the Bucharest University on 7 October, with appr. 200 people attending the event. The next day a training was held at the Organized Crime Department of the Bucharest Police Inspectorate, with 12 police officers. After the event, Jack had a meeting with Prof. Dr. Gheorghe Popa, police quaestor, director of the Institute of Studies for Public Safety. Mr. Popa and Mr. Cole discussed about the purpose of the training, LEAP activity, other related topics. His Romanian visit was well publicized by the press (an example).
Jack's trip was sponsored by the HCLU, in the framework of the European Drug Policy Initiative (EDPI) – a network funded by the Open Society Institute.
Posted by Peter Sarosi