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Source: Vancouver Sun (Canada) Contact: http://www.vancouversun.com/ Pubdate: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 Author: Neil Boyd, Professor, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University I can understand why Vancouver Police Chief Bruce Chambers didn't want Constable Gil Puder to speak at the Fraser Institute's conference, Sensible Solutions for the Urban Drug Problem (Decriminalize street drugs, city police officer says, April 22). The chief clearly wants to preserve the status quo; leaders of large bureaucracies have an understandable desire to protect their territory. Gil Puder is a former member of the Emergency Response Team, a decorated veteran of the drug wars. An expert in police use of force, he doesn't exactly look or act like a bleeding heart liberal. In 1984 he had to shoot an addicted bank robber; 10 years ago he lost a friend and colleague, killed by a cocaine trafficker during a police raid. He has been a front line drug warrior and he's understandably frustrated by the violence, the contradiction and the hypocrisy: among other things, the officers who drink their beers, smoke their cigarretes and happily take the pot smoker to court. It's not a recipe for honest and equal treatment of Canadians, particularly when all credible research indicates that alcohol and tobacco are much more harmful to health than cannabis. And trying to force police officers and others to keep quiet is even more disturbing; it is only through open and civil debate that we will be able to resolve our differences. The constable's speech took courage and commitment. The Fraser Institute helped advance our understanding of the problems. Is it possible any politicians are listening?