- Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) testifies before the US House Financial Services Committee in support of the SAFE Banking Act
- Banks Want a Hit of the Marijuana Business. Will They Get to Partake? (Washington Post)
- Let Prosecutors Protect the Integrity of the Justice System (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
- What Manafort’s Sentence Says About Criminal Justice Disparities (PBS)
- Retired Detective: I Applaud the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Decision to Stop Prosecuting Marijuana Cases (Washington Post)
- Are We Asking Police to Do Too Much? 7 Experts Debate the Role Police Should Play in Today’s Society (Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Overdose Prevention Sites Better Than Arrest to Fight Addiction (Baltimore Sun)
- The Right and Wrong Way to Legalize Pot (New York Daily News)
Dear LEAP Supporter,
The Law Enforcement Action Partnership has started 2019 off strong. In February, I testified before the House Financial Services Committee in support of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would protect legitimate, tax-paying marijuana businesses and their employees from theft and violence by allowing access to financial services. LEAP was the only law enforcement organization invited to testify, and we pointed out how important the SAFE Banking Act will be for public safety. The bill continues to move forward in Congress, and will be a major step for marijuana reform.
LEAP is doing more legislative work than ever before – in fact, our legislative activities since the beginning of this year have already exceeded our numbers for the entire year in 2018.
Our speakers are at the forefront of criminal justice and drug policy reform, and we’re excited to share what we’ve been working on with you. Thank you for standing with LEAP and standing for reform.
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
Maryland State Police & Baltimore Police Depts.
LEAP Executive Director
Alabama: Eleven LEAP police chiefs and prosecutors signed on to an amicus brief supporting bail reform in the state. LEAP hosted a law enforcement roundtable in Alabama, collaborating with the Southern Poverty Law Center to provide a forum for law enforcement to discuss structuring effective sentencing, preventing addiction-related crime, police transparency, responding to mental health crises, diversion, and building police-community trust.
Arizona: Sergeant Terry Blevins (Fmr.) testified in support of earned credit legislation promoting truth in sentencing. He also testified to the need for a clear definition of medical marijuana, one that does not cause confusion for members of law enforcement, in regard to proposed legislation on the matter. Blevins and Deputy Sheriff Jay Fleming (Fmr.) testified in support of syringe possession decriminalization. Fleming also met with legislators individually, encouraging them to support the legislation. Officer Jack Wilborn (Ret.) was interviewed by Blog for Arizona about felony charges for marijuana and marijuana decriminalization. He also spoke at an event organized by an ally in support of state-level criminal justice reforms. A city councilmember requested information on a range of our speakers’ local initiatives in the areas of crime prevention and pre-booking diversion.
California: LEAP signed letters in support of: repealing the 1-year mandatory sentencing enhancement for priors; restoring voting rights to Californians on parole; reform preventing cities from towing cars for poverty-related issues. We also signed on to an amicus brief for a case that resulted in a judgment requiring the consideration of a defendant’s ability to pay. An ally mentioned LEAP’s support for civil asset forfeiture reform in Forbes and the Los Angeles Times interviewed Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.) about the Timbs v. Indiana Supreme Court decision on civil asset forfeiture and the revival of fines and fees legislation. Deputy District Attorney Michael Cindrich (Fmr.) was quoted in a San Diego Union-Tribune story about the state of marijuana regulations in California. Deputy Chief Stephen Downing (Ret.) and Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) provided advice on police accountability legislation. Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey (Ret.), Assistant City Prosecutor Yvette McDowell (Fmr.), and Sergeant Terry Blevins (Fmr.) provided oral and written testimony to the Los Angeles City Council in opposition to a menthol tobacco ban, which would disproportionately impact communities of color and further damage police-community relations. Major Franklin met with the Sacramento City Council and Chief John Dixon (Ret.) gave oral and written testimony to the Sacramento City Council also in opposition to a menthol tobacco ban.
Colorado: Assistant District Attorney Jake Lilly addressed prison and re-entry reform from a faith-based perspective in a powerful speech at Colorado Christian University. Deputy Sheriff Carrie Roberts (Fmr.) provided a quote in support of the Denver Right to Survive legislation to remove ordinances that criminalize homelessness. LEAP was mentioned in an op-ed by Colorado state legislators in the Denver Post on creating a comprehensive regulatory system for marijuana. Chief Mike Butler’s expertise was sought for an interview by a Kansas paper on restorative justice.
Connecticut: Chief Robert Hoffman (Ret.) submitted written testimony in support of marijuana legalization in the state.
Florida: Three law enforcement officers from the Gainesville and Daytona Beach Police Departments, and a judge representing Miami-Dade County joined LEAP as speakers -- ready to address the many issues currently surrounding criminal justice reform in the state.
Georgia: Assistant Attorney General Jay Fisher (Fmr.), Assistant District Attorney Jake Lilly, Lieutenant Tim McMillan (Ret.), District Attorney J. Tom Morgan (Fmr.), and Officer Stephen Bradley (Fmr.) authored a letter in support of medical marijuana reform in the state, and Officer Corey Lowe (Fmr.) provided oral and written testimony in support of a bill regulating medical marijuana. She was also quoted and profiled in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on the issue.
Illinois: Officer Brian Gaughan (Fmr.) submitted written testimony in support of renewing police stop data collection legislation, HB 1613. Assistant State’s Attorney Inge Fryklund (Fmr.) and Officer Dave Franco (Ret.) signed on to a letter in support of the bill, which recently passed the Illinois Senate, and Governor Pritzker is expected to sign it into law.
Indiana: Corrections Officer Sheri Ray (Fmr.) authored written testimony in opposition to a bill that would create a public registry of people convicted of felonies. LEAP also signed on to a letter opposing the bill, which was successfully defeated. Ray also authored written testimony in opposition to a bill that would allow twelve- and thirteen-year-olds to be tried as adults for attempted murder, and she published an op-ed in the Times of Northwest Indiana explaining her views. LEAP signed on to a letter opposing the bill, and that bill was also defeated.
Iowa: Chief Mark Prosser and Chief Mike Tupper signed on to a letter in support of legislation to allow syringe access programs in the state.
Kansas: Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and Sheriff Joe Pelle provided advice to an ally on restorative justice opportunities for reducing jail populations. Col. David Parrish (Ret.) and Dr. Michael Gilbert, a former corrections officer and retired professor of criminal justice, also advised an ally organization on strategies to reduce the state’s local jail population.
Louisiana: Sheriff Craig Webre and Chief Bryan Zeringue provided quotes in support of the implementation of Raise the Age juvenile justice reform. LEAP connected two ally organizations working on pre-booking diversion in Louisiana.
Maryland: Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) spoke to both FOX News and the Baltimore Sun on State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement that she would decline to prosecute most marijuana offenses. Detective Debbie Ramsey (Ret.) authored an op-ed in the Washington Post about the State’s Attorney’s decision to stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases, and she was interviewed by WYPR in Baltimore on the topic. LEAP also signed on to an ally’s public letter in support of Mosby’s announcement, and we introduced multiple organizations interested in supporting the Mosby decision. Major Franklin, Detective Ramsey, Deputy Secretary Wendell France (Ret.), and Judge Gordon McAllister, as well as LEAP as an organization, signed on to a letter in support of legislation to authorize pilot overdose prevention centers in the state. Major Franklin, Assistant Counsel Eric Sterling (Fmr.), and LEAP Program Director Amos Irwin testified in support of the overdose prevention centers, and Major Mike Hilliard (Ret.) published a letter to the editor in the Baltimore Sun in support of establishing overdose prevention centers. Deputy Secretary France, of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, and Assistant Counsel Sterling testified in support of providing Medication-Assisted Treatment in correctional facilities. Deputy Secretary France submitted written testimony in support of a bill to remove the governor from the parole process. France also provided oral and written testimony in support of two bills to address the inappropriate use of solitary confinement in state prisons. Along with Major Franklin, France also spoke at a press conference at the state capitol in support of reform. Judge Gordon McAllister (Ret.) testified in support of legalizing marijuana, and he published an op-ed in the Bay Times and Record Observer in support of syringe decriminalization legislation. Major Franklin traveled to Annapolis to deliver oral and written testimony in support of improving the state’s rape kit testing guidelines. He also delivered written testimony for three additional bills: one in support of drug sentencing reform in Maryland; one in support of improving police accountability; and one in opposition to a bill to increase mandatory gun crime sentencing. Major Franklin also spoke to The Real News Network about menthol tobacco bans. Detective Debbie Ramsey (Ret.) and Judge Gordon McAllister (Ret.) provided oral and written testimony in support of marijuana legalization in Maryland. LEAP signed a support letter for legislation to improve police transparency and accountability. Chief Robert Hoffman (Ret.), Chief Brendan Cox (Ret.), Chief Norm Stamper (Ret.), Chief Steve Moore (Ret.), Sheriff James Manfre (Ret.), U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown (Fmr.), and Commissioner Jiles Ship signed a letter in support of the Baltimore District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit.
Massachusetts: Sheriff Steve Tompkins's juvenile justice program was mentioned in a Boston Herald story about youth organizers pushing for education, jobs, and prison reform.
Michigan: Sergeant Steve Miller was interviewed by the Detroit Metro Times about marijuana detection in drivers. Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller, along with attorneys Jayesh Patel and Steve Binder, presented a LEAP webinar on Detroit’s Street Outreach Court, a court held in a soup kitchen to intervene successfully with the city’s homeless population. Detective Sergeant Ted Nelson (Ret.) spoke on a panel about state-level civil asset forfeiture reforms.
Missouri: Chief Betty Taylor (Ret.) submitted written testimony in support of legislation that would improve data collection of police interactions with civilians. She also provided advice on an ally’s draft legislation on the topic. Taylor submitted written testimony in support of legislation to change the fact that not disclosing HIV status is a crime. Chief Larry Kirk (Ret.) testified in support of a bill to expunge marijuana convictions. Thirteen LEAP police chiefs and prosecutors signed on to a letter in support of prosecutors using Brady Lists to prevent problematic police witnesses from damaging cases.
New Hampshire: Cheshire County Corrections Superintendent Richard Van Wickler testified in support of marijuana legalization legislation. Officer Joe Lachance (Fmr.) also published an op-ed in the Nashua Telegraph in support of marijuana legalization.
New Jersey: Officer Nick Bucci (Ret.) testified in support of restoring voting rights to people on probation and parole in New Jersey. Local media quoted Bucci on the topic. He also published an op-ed in NorthJersey.com in support of marijuana legalization in the state.
New York: Commissioner Jiles Ship testified against a proposed menthol tobacco ban in New York City. Judge Beckie Palomo and Assistant District Attorney Linda Garza (Fmr.) spoke about Texas’s open discovery system at a press conference on discovery reform in New York City. The judge also wrote a letter to the New York legislature in support of the issue. Assistant District Attorney Julia Rubio and Assistant District Attorney Garza co-authored an op-ed in support of open discovery in the New York Law Journal. Lieutenant Diane Goldstein (Ret.) was interviewed by VICE News about race and marijuana enforcement in New York. LEAP was profiled alongside other reform organizations in an Albany Times Union article about marijuana policy. Prosecutor Lucy Lang (Fmr.) spoke with local news channel PIX11 about the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution’s new toolkit for prosecutors handling officer-involved shootings that would provide better police accountability. Chief Peter Volkmann, Chief Brendan Cox (Ret.), Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues (Ret.), and Lieutenant Joanne Naughton (Ret.) signed a statement in support of the “Less is More” effort to improve the state probation system. LEAP signed on to a letter in support of restoring voting rights to people on parole, and we wrote a letter in support of parole reform and compassionate release. Deputy Inspector Pegues was interviewed by the Investigative Post in Buffalo about an officer-involved shooting. Pegues also published an op-ed in the NY Daily News calling for marijuana legalization in the state to address the communities most impacted by marijuana enforcement. Chief Peter Volkmann published an op-ed in the Albany Times Union in support of marijuana legalization. Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) was quoted in an article in The Nation in support of parole and compassionate release in New York. We provided an ally with quotes in support of marijuana legalization from Chief Volkmann, Deputy Inspector Pegues, Lieutenant Naughton, Assistant District Attorney Lang, Deputy Commissioner of Probation David Muhammad (Fmr.), and Officer Jeff Kaufman (Fmr.).
North Carolina: Chief Jeffrey Smythe published an op-ed in the Burlington Times-News in support of school justice partnerships to reduce juvenile arrests in schools perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline.
Ohio: Chief Tom Synan was quoted in an Associated Press article, which was syndicated to 63 outlets, on how DEA chemists solved the mystery of a drug causing mass overdoses. He was also quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer on the false rumors of “narcan parties.” Synan was also quoted in a Sacramento Bee story about a deadly batch of heroin containing carfentanil. U.S. Attorney Braden Boucek (Fmr.) was interviewed by WTAM radio in Cincinnati about the Timbs v. Indiana Supreme Court decision on civil asset forfeiture.
Oklahoma: LEAP signed on to a letter in support of Oklahoma’s work to enact a variety of criminal justice reforms, including reducing unnecessary prison terms, expanding the use of evidence-proven supervision, recidivism-reduction practices, and limiting powerful sentence enhancements.
Pennsylvania: Prosecutor Patrick Nightingale (Fmr.) discussed the challenges of detecting marijuana impairment in drivers with the Associated Press. He was also quoted in a Philly Inquirer story about the state's latest marijuana legalization efforts. Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) spoke on a panel at the University of Pennsylvania in support of criminal justice reform. Officer Peter Moskos (Fmr.) was interviewed by the Philly Inquirer about the role of police in society.
Rhode Island: Officer Beth Comery (Fmr.) submitted written testimony in support of comprehensive civil asset forfeiture reform in Rhode Island.
South Carolina: US Attorney Bill Nettles (Fmr.) was quoted in the Charlotte Observer about a new poll showing that most South Carolinians support medical marijuana.
Texas: Lieutenant Jay Hall (Ret.) spoke in Houston at an event for communities of color on medical marijuana. Eleven LEAP police chiefs and prosecutors signed on to an amicus brief supporting bail reform in Texas. Officer Silvestre Tanenbaum (Fmr.) was interviewed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about CBD. Chief Dan Meloy (Ret.) was interviewed by the Dallas Morning News about body cameras and Tasers. Chief Brian Manley provided important data on arrest warrants for a research study. Judge John Delaney (Ret.) provided oral and written testimony in support of a bill to decriminalize marijuana in Texas. His support was mentioned in a KCEN TV article on the hearing.
Nationwide: Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) testified before Congress in support of the SAFE Banking Act. Statements from his testimony were quoted in the Washington Post. Additional stories about the hearing included Yahoo News, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, Deseret News, and many more. LEAP signed on to a letter in support of the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act to reinstate Pell Grant funding for incarcerated people. Chief Norm Stamper (Ret.) was quoted in The Washington Post and SFGate on the need for federal oversight of police agencies. Chief Judge Kevin Sharp (Fmr.) was interviewed by PBS on disparities in the criminal justice system. He was also interviewed by NBCNews on the First Step Act and its impact on several high profile cases. Detective Justin Boardman (Fmr.) was interviewed by NowThis on his trauma-informed police interviewing trainings for sexual assault investigations. Former federal prosecutor and military police officer Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Rizer (Ret.) discussed the importance of educating prisoners with The Intercept. Rizer was interviewed by Prison Legal News on the Timbs v. Indiana Supreme Court ruling on civil asset forfeiture. He also published an op-ed in the Washington Examiner calling attention to the problem of criminal records preventing successful reintegration in society, and an op-ed in The Crime Report calling attention to the need for police recruits to live in the neighborhoods they are policing. Detective Howard Wooldridge (Ret.) published an op-ed in The Crime Report arguing that police can use field sobriety tests to handle the marijuana DUI issue.
- Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey (Ret.) and Assistant City Prosecutor Yvette McDowell (Ret.) after testifying before the Los Angeles City Council on the public safety threats of menthol bans
- Officer Nate Schwiethale developed the Wichita Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team (H.O.T.), a full-time team of three officers that work in partnership with homeless service providers. To date, Wichita H.O.T. has assisted over 900 homeless off the streets and into permanent or transitional housing.
- Major Neill Franklin testifies in support of the SAFE Banking Act, which would would protect legitimate, tax-paying marijuana businesses and their employees from theft and violence by allowing access to financial services.
- The LEAP UK team at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting in Vienna.
- LEAP UK Chairman Detective Sergeant Neil Woods (Ret.) appears on Tim Lovejoy's podcast. To quote Lovejoy, "If you only listen to one of my podcasts, make it this one. Ex-undercover drugs squad explains how making drugs illegal has ruined our society."
Becoming a judge never seemed like a real possibility to Kevin Sharp. Growing up in Tennessee in a family of modest means, Sharp wanted to become a lawyer but was unsure if college was in his future. After a “life-altering” four years of service in the US Navy, he enrolled in college and went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from Vanderbilt University. In 2011, after 14 years in private practice, Kevin Sharp took the bench as a federal judge. Judge Sharp presided over 75 trials and 60 contested evidentiary hearings. All the while, his frustration with the criminal justice system was growing. He felt that mandatory minimum sentencing essentially removed his discretionary powers, forcing him to hand down sentences that were out of proportion with the crimes. Just six years after receiving the coveted lifetime appointment to Chief US District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, Judge Kevin Sharp resigned.
He returned to private practice, feeling he could make a bigger impact on criminal justice issues by taking cases as a lawyer and advocate for reform. Recently, he began working with Kim Kardashian on the case of Chris Young, a gentleman he himself had been forced to sentence to life in prison through mandatory minimum sentencing. Judge Sharp has met with the president on the clemency process and attended a roundtable discussion on criminal justice reform with Ms. Kardashian at the White House. He hopes that what is on the other side of the reform process is “a more just and fair system…something that lifts all of us up economically, socially, and emotionally, and brings us to a better place.”
Executive Director Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) testified before the US House Financial Services Committee in support of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would protect legitimate, tax-paying marijuana businesses and their employees from theft and violence by allowing access to financial services.
LEAP was the only law enforcement organization invited to testify, and we pointed out how important this bill will be for public safety. Forcing a high-volume business to rely on a cash-on-hand system places a target on the backs of employees, making dispensaries targets for thieves. Major Franklin urged the House Financial Services Committee to take action, and they showed us that they heard our call to protect local businesses and workers by approving the bill in March, moving it forward to the full House. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate in April, and both bills have bipartisan tracking.
This is an important step for marijuana reform and a proactive measure for public safety. In the words of Major Franklin, “eliminating cash-only businesses so people can properly manage their cash, use electronic transactions and other types of payment systems, it makes for a much safer environment for everyone, whether it’s business owners, employees, or the people patronizing.”
In early 2019, LEAP UK traveled to Vienna to attend the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting. There, our UK team called on the UN to recognize that our current drug policies have failed and must be reformed from a policing perspective.
LEAP UK’s Stop & Search podcast continues to grow in popularity, attracting the most fascinating guests from across the UK to join host Jason Reed and discuss the most pressing issues in drug policy. In the first few months of 2019, guests included author Patrick Winn, who talked about Southeast Asia’s crime syndicates and the connection between the meth trade, human trafficking, and police corruption, and editors of the British Medical Journal, who discussed a health-led approach to drug policy.
Detective Sergeant Neil Woods (Ret.) joined Saturday morning TV legend Tim Lovejoy’s podcast to talk about drug law reform and his book, Drug Wars: The Terrifying Inside Story of Britain’s Drug Trade. Detective Sergeant Woods also appeared in:
- Fatal Police Shooting of Unarmed British Man Sparks Criticism from Officers (Vice UK)
- Ex-Undercover Drug Policeman Warns of County Lines and Organized Crime (Dorset Echo)
- Former Drug Police: “The Only Way to End Corruption, Save Lives and Protect Children is to Regulate Drug Trafficking.” (Uutiset)
- Policing Drugs in a Racist Society (LEAP UK blog)
On LEAP's blog, our speakers give expert commentary on the most pressing issues in criminal justice, policing, and drug policy. Recent topics include:
- “I Held This Kid’s Hand. I Talked to Him. I Begged Him Not to Die.”
- The Opioid Crisis – How Every Cop Can Help Right Now
- Innovative Prosecutors are Promoting Police Accountability and Civil Rights
- “If You See a Machine That Looks Like a Tank Rolling Down Your Street, People are Going to Wonder Whether They’re Safe in Their Own Neighborhood.”
- When 28,000 Alabamians Lost Mental Health Care, Police Were Expected to Pick Up the Slack. Sergeant Blalock Rose to the Challenge.
- “We’re Pretty Stubborn and Set in Our Ways. We Need to Change That.”