Pubdate: Fri, 28 Aug 2015
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Times Colonist
Author: Katie DeRosa
Page: A3


It was embarrassing for the Victoria Police Department to have an 
officer publicly supporting the legalization of drugs, former police 
chief Jamie Graham told a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Graham, who retired in 2013, said the force has to be seen as neutral 
and it's inappropriate for a constable to be making comments that 
might undermine his duty to enforce the law.

Const. David Bratzer, an advocate for drug legalization, filed the 
human rights complaint because he said the department effectively 
muzzled him by limiting his right to speak publicly as a member of 
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition while off duty. LEAP is an 
international organization of current and former law-enforcement 
officials pushing for full legalization and regulation of drugs.

In questioning Graham, Bratzer, who is representing himself, tried to 
establish that there was a double standard. He gave examples of 
issues on which Graham took clear stances, such as calling for 
tougher laws for drivers who use their cellphones and supporting 
criminal charges for those who wear a mask during a riot.

"When you made these comments to the media calling for these laws, 
did you view yourself as attacking existing laws when you proposed 
these new ideas?" Bratzer asked. "No," Graham responded. "Why was it 
embarrassing for me to talk about changes to Canadian law while I was 
off duty?" Bratzer asked.

Graham explained that the department was trying to strike a balance 
between Bratzer's rights to free speech and to hold political views, 
with its desire to have advance notice when he would be speaking at 
an event. He said the department wanted to be prepared to respond to 
media queries about Bratzer's views.

Bratzer received several letters from his supervisors that set out 
rules for public speaking, including a requirement that he ask for 
permission. The letters also reminded him that Graham disapproved of 
his actions.

The constable said Graham barred him from participating in a panel 
discussion on harm reduction at Victoria City Hall in February 2010. 
He was also ordered not to comment publicly on Washington state's 
successful referendum on marijuana legalization.

When asked whether he holds strong personal views on marijuana 
prohibition, the former chief said no, he tries to remain neutral on the topic.

Bratzer pointed to a December 2011 article in which Graham spoke out 
against a proposal that marijuana be regulated and taxed.

Graham also wrote in a July 2013 opinion piece in the Times Colonist 
that until Canada has roadside screening devices that test for 
drug-impairment in drivers, "the discussion about decriminalization 
or legalization will continually be opposed by most of the police community."

The tribunal concludes Saturday.
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