HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Cop Speaks Out From Grave Against War On Drugs
Pubdate: Mon, 09 Jun 2003
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Vancouver Courier
Author:  Mike Howell
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


The brother of a dead Vancouver cop will make a rare public appearance 
Sunday night at a movie theatre to tell how the department attempted to 
silence his brother's controversial views on drugs.

Randy Puder will be on a panel at Pacific Cinematheque as part of the 
Downtown Eastside Film Festival's showing of four police-related films, one 
featuring his brother Const. Gil Puder, who died of cancer four years ago 
at age 40.

"It'll give me a chance to clarify and depolarize the issue of police 
excessive force and drug crackdowns that don't work, and maybe offer some 
insight into what might work a bit better," said Puder, who works in the 
information technology business.

He said the debate around drug strategies couldn't come at a better time, 
as the Vancouver police department is two months into its crackdown on drug 
dealers in the Downtown Eastside.

"I know Gil would be critical of what's going on, and that one pillar can't 
go charging off into the wild blue yonder to solve things."

The documentary, Stopping Traffik: The War Against the War on Drugs, 
chronicles Puder's career from 1984, when he was hailed as a "hero" for 
shooting a heroin-addicted bank robber, to his painful conclusion that the 
so-called war on drugs wasn't working.

In an editorial in the Vancouver Sun in 1997 and in a presentation to the 
Fraser Institute in 1998, Puder called for the legalization of marijuana 
and decriminalization of heroin and opiates for medicinal purposes.

Puder had been ordered in a memo from then-Chief Const. Bruce Chambers not 
to appear at the Fraser Institute conference unless he changed the content 
of his speech.

In his speech, he criticized "police drug experts" for using "smear tactics 
and conjecture" in anti-drug speeches to school children. He also accused 
other cops of aggressively arresting "hypes, junkies or druggies" with no 
sympathy for the addicts.

For his views, Puder-a 17-year veteran of the force-became the subject of a 
lengthy internal investigation after complaints from fellow cops. His 
brother later wrote an article for a U.S.-based drug policy think tank 
alleging the investigation "was intended to discredit Gil's position."

"Through it all, Gil continued to speak at various conferences and public 
meetings," wrote Randy Puder in an April 2000 article for "The Drug Policy 
Letter." At one of these meetings, several drug squad members gathered in a 
group in an obvious attempt to harass and intimidate him."

Before he died, Puder wrote an unpublished book, titled Crossfire: A Street 
Cop's Stand Against Violence, Corruption and the War on Drugs. In it, Puder 
writes about his career as a street cop and how cops' use of force in drug 
crackdowns is damaging the integrity of policing-strong claims, considering 
Puder was a use-of-force trainer for the Justice Institute of B.C.

So far, the Puder family has decided not to publish the book because it's 
still grieving Gil's death. Randy said the book is based on documents, 
evidence and Gil's beliefs.

Organizers of the film festival have invited at least two other cops to be 
on the panel, but hadn't heard back as of Friday. SFU Prof. Bruce Alexander 
will be there to talk about Mao's successful approach to tackling opium 
addiction in China.

The night begins at 7 p.m. with Whistling Smith, a short 1975 National Film 
Board production about Sgt. Bernie "Whistling" Smith, who used to walk the 
beat in the Downtown Eastside.

Stopping Traffik follows shortly after, with two more films at 9:30 p.m.: 
Through a Clear Lens-a small group of youths' take on the interface between 
the cops and youth-and Through a Blue Lens, the award-winning police-shot 
documentary on drug addiction in the Downtown Eastside. Pacific 
Cinematheque is at 1131 Howe St.
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