Pubdate: Mon, 25 Apr 2016
Source: Vancouver 24hours (CN BC)
Page: 3
Copyright: 2016 Vancouver 24 hrs.
Author: Michael Mui,


A Victoria police officer who was repeatedly told by management to
limit his public views on drug policy has been awarded $20,000 by the
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Const. David Bratzer's run-ins with senior officers in his department
began after he joined The Law Enforcement Against Prohibition advocacy
group in 2007.

The group advocates harm reduction, which sees drug abuse as a "health
problem" and not a "law enforcement matter" - views that evidence
showed were in contrast with the beliefs of senior management.

In one email, after Bratzer criticized the Vancouver Police
Department's views on marijuana grow operations, Victoria Chief Jamie
Graham said his "might be the final straw."

"We've ignored his left leanings as it wasn't worth the aggravation
from the far left to deal with his comments. He is part of that Norm
Stamper crowd," Graham wrote to then-Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu.

"Sometimes he goes too far. With this kind of criticism of another
agency (yours), he is over the line. I'll deal with it."

In two later instances, Bratzer was ordered not to speak - at a Green
Party fundraiser and a city-hosted harm reduction conference.

Bratzer, at one point, was written to by Graham, who told the officer
he was to provide advance notice of all venues and communications
where he planned to express his opinion about ending drug prohibition,
banned from directly communicating with media, banned from certain
types of events, and told that permission to speak publicly will be
granted "on a case-by-case basis."

Tribunal member Walter Rilkoff ruled the department must allow Bratzer
to continue his drug advocacy.

"There is no question that Mr. Bratzer curtailed his activities and I
accept that, from after the second Graham letter, while he continued
with his activities, he did so under threat of discipline and even an
end to the police career he so prized," Rilkoff wrote. 
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