This week, former Seattle police chief Norman Stamper is receiving the H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the area of Control and Enforcement from the Drug Policy Alliance. Given to those involved in law enforcement, the award is presented to those who have demonstrated a balanced regard for the needs of enforcement and human compassion.
Stamper is among leading advocates that work to promote and implement more sensible drug policies honored at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference, in New Orleans, Dec. 5-8. The conference was organized by the Drug Policy Alliance and dozens of other organizations. The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation's leading organization working to end the war on drugs and promote new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights. The winners will be honored during an awards ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 8.
The biennial awards for achievement in drug policy reform recognize the accomplishments and commitment of people and organizations that have done outstanding drug policy reform work. The awards are given every other year at the international conference of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Stamper was a police officer for 34 years, the last six (1994-2000) as Seattle's chief of police. He is the author of "Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing" and several op-eds in outlets such as the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune. He is an advisory board member of both Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). He also serves on the board of directors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services in San Juan County, Washington. He also is a member of and speaker for Death Penalty Focus, an organization working to end executions. Stamper lives and writes in the San Juan Islands.
"I still recall Norm Stamper's words the first time I heard him speak publicly about the drug war back in January 2000 when he was still the police chief in Seattle," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "'Harm reduction is a moral imperative,' Stamper said. I've never met a police chief who combines courage and intelligence the way Norm Stamper does."
The award is named after H.B. Spear, who played the lead role in British drug control policy for more than a quarter century. He was an inspector in the Drugs Branch of the Home Office and eventually rose to the rank of chief inspector, a post from which he retired in 1986. As the leading expert on addiction and drug treatment policy in Great Britain, Mr. Spear advocated heroin and methadone maintenance. The front-line police in Scotland Yard came to him for advice and so did street addicts. Influenced by the 1926 Rolleston Report, "Bing" Spear believed drug control and law enforcement could be rational and humane.
Past awardees include: Jack Cole, a founding member and the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; Commander Brian Paddick, Metropolitan Police Authority, London; Terence Hallinan, former San Francisco district attorney; Peter Frerichs, vice president of the Frankfurt, Germany, Police Department; Dr. Hans Korner Harald, public prosecutor, Frankfurt, Germany; Joseph D. McNamara, Ph.D., research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a former police chief; Nicholas Pastore, former police chief of New Haven, Conn., and advocate of harm reduction strategies; and Eddy L. Engelsman, former Dutch drug czar and proponent of humane drug policy.