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Law Enforcement Action Partnership with Neill Franklin

Gary Pinkerton talks with Neill Frankling, Executive Director at LEAP (Law Enforcement Action Partnership)

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Gary Pinkerton hosts Neill Franklin, Executive Director at LEAP (Law Enforcement Action Partnership). They discuss what the LEAP organization’s mission is with mental health. One key issue is legalizing marijuana. They talk about mental health services from the prison perspective and encourage listeners to be more proactive about mental health issues.

Announcer 0:04
Welcome to the heroic investing show. As first responders we risk our lives every day our financial security is under attack. Our pensions are in a state of emergency. A single on duty incident can alter or erase our earning potential instantly and forever. We are the heroes of society. We are self reliant and we need to take care of our own financial future. The heroic investing show is our toolkit of business and investing tactics on our mission to financial freedom. 

Gary Pinkerton 0:39
My name is Gary Pinkerton and I co host this show with Jason Hartman. This is heroic investing Episode 189. In today’s episode, I interview major Neil Franklin from Baltimore, Maryland. Major Franklin is a 34 year law enforcement veteran, and he’s currently the Executive Director for ltap leap Law Enforcement Against Prohibition drug policy reform organization. In 1999. He retired from the Maryland State Police Department after a long career in both education and career development command, and the Bureau of drug and criminal enforcement. After those 23 years of service, he was then recruited by the Baltimore Police Department to reconstruct and command their police education and training section. He has appeared on several news channels, and his writings have been printed in LA Times, Washington Post and the New York Times. He is by far one of the most sought after drug policy reform public speakers in the United States. Please join me in welcoming major Neil Franklin. I’ve been accused rightfully so of spending all my guests time with members of the military and veterans. Well, what can I say I know a lot of members in the military and veterans I have a lot of great friends that are firefighters here in the New York City area as well as police officers, and my awesome guests. Now, Neil is not from that area. But I have spent a large portion of my life in Annapolis, Maryland or Washington DC, having gone to the Naval Academy and then spent a lot of time with the Pentagon and the Navy Yard. So I feel like we are close friends and neighbors. But I’d like to welcome as I mentioned in the introduction, Neil Franklin, Neil, thank you so much for joining our group,

Neill Franklin 2:26
a Gary’s pleasure to be here with you.

Gary Pinkerton 2:28
So as I mentioned, Neil spent an entire career and Mellon State Police Department. And then he went and did some time with in Baltimore. But he left all of that eventually, after some time with transit to start off as executive director of the law enforcement action partnership, and I have to admit, I knew nothing about leap its acronym, or what what you all do and I find it fascinating and quite inspiring that people out there trying to affect positive change. Could you please I’m gonna make the assumption that most of the people out there don’t know what This is either, please just give us a little description of bleep.

Neill Franklin 3:02
Yeah, sure. That’s a tall challenge for us our marketing program for more people learn about us and understand what we do and the importance of our work. So we’re an organization we were formed back in 2002 by a couple of law enforcement folks and retired lieutenant from the New Jersey State Police and a captain from my small town in New York. The goal was to pay attention to policies that don’t work. And we began as an organization that focused on growth policies, which we move from long Smith to be central to a lot of the issues and problems we have in community today. So where we are now as an organization, we are an international nonprofit. We are made up of criminal justice professional and I like to say boots on the ground. What does that mean? So that’s police, that’s prosecutors, that’s judges. Those are corrections officials and parole and probation, everything encompassing criminal justice. work in our communities from first contact with citizens, that’s our police. If you’re arrested, you go for the prosecutor’s office. If you’re charged, you go for the bench for a judge for trial. And if you’re convicted, you end up in corrections, unfortunately, and then at the back end, eventually on parole or probation. So as we approach and deal with improving our criminal justice policies in this country, we wanted to have an organization of folks who could touch on every single aspect of our criminal justice system, can boots on the ground. And so with that, we are primarily a speaker’s bureau. We have thousands of members but we have almost about 250 experts, speakers who touch on five silos of work when we speak, police community relations is one incarceration, criminalization that’s to harm reduction and drug policy, and then global issues and we have a very, very strong branch in Europe. So that in a nutshell is who We are we speak at conferences, we speak at college campuses from Harvard to your local community college. We speak to our legislators. You mentioned Annapolis, Gary, we are so I’ve been in Annapolis quite a bit during this session, speaking for and testifying for certain pieces of policy. And that’s what we speak much more anybody who wants to learn more about what we believe is needed to change to rebuild to reform our criminal justice system. Just give us a call and that’s who we are.

Gary Pinkerton 5:29
That’s amazing. Cool. Yeah. Again, completely had no clue that there was such a large organization and nor a group of 250. Experts speaking on this subject. What are some of the current events that your challenges that you’re taking on in Congress Recently, there

Neill Franklin 5:45
was a recent bill that was passed on the first step act, and what that means that that’s a bill that works on people with people who are currently incarcerated when preparing them for re entering society. Our past board chair The superintendent still is a superintendent of a GL facility in New Hampshire. And one of the things that always stuck with me when Rick, when we talk about this issue of reentry, people incarcerated, went back into community is that the people that he had within his institution, were from his community. And he said, when they leave me, I want them to be as best as prepared as possible for success. Because I don’t want them committing crimes in my neighborhood. I don’t want them you know, committing acts of violence. I don’t want them doing things that they used to do. I want them to become productive citizens. It makes a lot of sense, because if we don’t pay attention to people who are returning to our communities, our communities become more violent. So people think that our prisons make a safer, more people we put in prison actually, the more unsafe we become more of a public safety issue if we don’t properly prepare. People and walk with them once they return back to our neighborhoods and communities. And so you mentioned that this recent bill or law, I think you said some Congress. Yeah. Was that something that you guys worked on to to help create or you were opposing it? No, no, it’s actually a bipartisan bill that passed. And we were working on it to support it. You know, so job training, education for people who are about to leave incarceration to return home, because we in policing, we don’t want to continue to lock up the same people and over and over again, we want to see them return home and get a job become productive citizens. You know, another major thing that we’re working on, which is a tough one for a lot of people, is finally ending the prohibition of marijuana, not just in this country, but around the globe. We’ve seen over the past few decades, the war on drugs is a complete failure. You know, it promotes violent crime within our communities. Yes, there is always a problem with substance abuse, for Just about any kind of drug you can think of, I have a problem with caffeine. So. So we’ve been advocating for proper regulation and control, which number one would take the profit motive out of it for gangs and crews and the cartels, and make it more difficult for our young people to get their hands on it. They’ll always be able to get their hands on certain things that we don’t want them to use, like alcohol, they still do. But the last thing you want is for it to be accessible to them anytime, anywhere within our communities by you know, gangs and crews on street corners, and they hire our children to sell it in schools. So we’re trying to reduce that as much as possible.

Gary Pinkerton 8:48
Yeah, that secondary market is only there if it’s incentivized adequately, meaning that it’s not being sold in legitimate places, right? Like there’s not a lot of secondary markets for alcohol or cigarettes. Really.

Neill Franklin 8:58
You have to meet a young person. That’s told me they had difficulty obtaining marijuana or any other drugs. Right,

Gary Pinkerton 9:05
right. Yeah, that’s unfortunate. Yeah, my wife’s a medical professional here in New Jersey. And we have, you know, we’re not alone in this, but we have a large opioid issue addiction for, you know, a lot of it’s stemming, supposedly from medical use for pain relief, right. And so, legalizing marijuana, she says, would have a tremendous positive impact on that. And I think the state is trying to do that as well. I think we now do have legal medical marijuana in the state, but people can just abuse the heck out of that so they can get, you know, marijuana that way when they don’t need it.

Neill Franklin 9:38
Well, Gary, Gary its very interesting. You mentioned that because there finally is a bonafide study through a number of economists. I think a couple of them are from Harvard. They finally now have our first study on states that have had robust medical marijuana schemes up and running for few years now. Looking at those states overdose death rates From opiate use, those states have a significantly lower overdose death rate for opiate use than states without medical marijuana programs. What they’ve found is that there’s been a transition of pain management from opiate pain medication over the cannabis marijuana. And that’s where the difference is being made. Because today, I’ve never heard of anyone dying from ingesting too much marijuana. You can’t you may do something stupid, you know, an injury yourself and lose your life but not from intoxication. There’s no overdose deaths from marijuana. Yeah,

Gary Pinkerton 10:39
yeah. It really is a gentle drug. I would assume. Having had my 30 years of metal of military history. I haven’t tried it out myself. In fact, I was made fun of about 10 years ago when I was at an event with some members of my crew and I said what does that ridiculous smell? No, like, seriously. But anyway, I am a bit naive sometimes. Okay, so we’ve covered marijuana, we covered a very important discussion about re integrating. I forgot the word you said a 

Neill Franklin 11:09
reentry.

Gary Pinkerton 11:09
reentry. Okay. Right. I was gonna say repatriation, but and so it’s somewhat that.

Neill Franklin 11:16
Here’s another important topic issue that we work on its mental health, right because we’re finding our prisons have become the new over the past few decades mental health holding facilities I dare to use the word hospital or treatment facilities because they don’t get the treatment that they need the mental health treatment that they need when they’re incarcerated in our prisons around the country. So this issue of mental health affects us in many different ways. Number one, beginning with police in the community. The police are there 24 seven they’re the ones usually get called for any type of disturbance. And many times we’re dealing with someone who has mental health issues, the homeless population so many of them are are doing mental health issues. And here we are, again, the police dealing with that we the police no longer want to be the tip of the spear for mental health issues in our communities, we no longer want to be the tip of the spear for drug abuse issues in our communities. These are issues that are for our health community for our mental health community. So how do we get the resources in our neighborhoods in our communities, so that people who are dealing with addiction and mental health issues and many times a duality of that, both at the same time? How do we redirect those resources from corrections and from public safety to our health care practitioners, which at the end of the day would save a ton of money, but more importantly, it would save lives. It would save adverse interaction between police and community members. And you know, it helps us to no longer be the bad guy, which we become in many communities in many neighborhoods. You Cuz unfortunately, we’re not mental health practitioners we don’t we don’t know how to deal with people in a very productive way, unfortunately, when it comes to mental health, so we’re teaching our police officers to recognize the telltale signs of someone having a mental health episode. But once we do that, we then need a very quick handoff of that person to someone who say, for instance, a 24 724 hour crisis center where they can respond immediately and relieve us from that person so we can continue to pay attention to crimes of violence within our communities, keeping people safe that way.

Gary Pinkerton 13:39
Yeah, it seems that seems like a tremendous challenge to try to figure out that it’s not going to be a very quick one. It reminds me of you know, people going to the emergency room to get Tylenol or whatever, you know, just because for whatever reason, the system that doesn’t work or they don’t have any money in the document cm or whatever, so they’re, you know, they end up spinning really Expensive resources or you know 911 gets called for something that we don’t need an EMT and fire to handle right that just seems like a tremendous waste of resources but very similar the same you know, the same on on mental health, right? You’re having to deal with things that people

Neill Franklin 14:14
have you spent any time recently any emergency room for.

Gary Pinkerton 14:17
Funny, funny story I have first one time this is the first time in probably 15 years because I’ve always had military access. And this was about a month ago, I rescued a cat who bit me and then you know, everyone, my doctor said, you need to go get a rabies shot. And I said, Okay, all right. Well, where do I get that? And they said, well, only the merge here on my C’mon, I’m not going to go to emergency room for a little scratch on my hand. First of all, I have to say that this emergency room, I learned two really important things that day. My wife pointed out that you can go online and figure out what the waistline is that every emergency room in your area that was fantastic. And because I went to the one that didn’t have a wait and walk right in and they were tremendous, they were absolutely amazing. So I probably have the experience, not The experience that you were about to tell me about mine was tremendous. But I did feel silly going to get a tetanus shot and rabies series of rabies shots at an emergency room, the only place that would do this work, it seems like that was completely ridiculous. But other than that the service and the efficiency was good. But I’m betting that that’s not where you’re going to say the average is not.

Neill Franklin 15:19
I mean, the last time I went was actually unfortunately with my wife, and it’s three hours, it’s four hours, especially here in the Baltimore area, tremendous weight, no matter which hospital you go to. But see, this is what people realize. And so for something where they could have just walked into an emergency room for, right, they call 911. Right? arrive in an ambulance, right? You get seen almost immediately. So what people respond, they realize this and it’s the same thing calling for police services. So when your brother or your son or your daughter is acting out, maybe tearing up the house, not hurting anyone, but maybe just Their room or whatever. Fortunately, people call the police because they have no one else to call,

Gary Pinkerton 16:05
or they do this will work because the police don’t want to. I mean, you know, we they’re public servants. So they’re not going to take the risk of blowing off a call or saying you shouldn’t call this or anything like that. Right?

Neill Franklin 16:15
Right. But parent or whoever once just wants the person stop tearing up the house. So do you want them out of the house and not the police will take them out of the house, not realizing that that’s a powder cake just to happen because again, the police aren’t going to come there as a social worker clinician. And they generally do not know how to talk to someone to recognize what the person’s condition may be, or they bipolar schizophrenia, or whatever, which you know, could take a different approach. Oh, that’s not how we do it. We come in, you know, three safe the situation right, you know, pounce on the person we handcuff him and we take him off to a jail sometimes hospital. But again, we need other options for people. Right? But three proactive, making sure we have very good programs and, you know, make sure there’s a lot of follow up with people to make sure they’re still on the medication, you’re not missing doses their prescription didn’t run out, you know, all of these things to be proactive, you know, pre emptive instead of waiting for something to happen. I think the average person doesn’t realize just how significant our mental health issue is in this country, especially when it comes to first responders and the people they deal with on a daily basis.

Gary Pinkerton 17:39
Wow. Okay, so there’s a lot of work out there to be done for you guys. A lot.

Neill Franklin 17:43
I’ve never been busier in my life and busy work in my days, especially with Baltimore.

Gary Pinkerton 17:49
So with all of the first responders listening to this and and members of the military veterans who want to help, how can they best help?

Neill Franklin 17:57
Well, the first thing they can do is come to our website. sight, which is the easiest way to get there is leap l e ap.cc leap.cc. On our website and those five silos of work that I mentioned. So you open up police community relations, and you’ll see a number of issues from body cameras to law enforcement assisted diversion programs, how to deal with young people. Even tobacco is becoming a problem now and you’re probably think, Oh yeah, 400,000 people die every year from using smokeable tobacco. But that’s not what I’m talking about. There are efforts across the country right now to ban and certain tobacco products like menthol tobacco products. Most people don’t know that within the black community. 78% of blacks prefer and smoke menthol tobacco products. Now, I’m in Baltimore City, the population of black population In Baltimore City is around 63%. What do you think will happen? If all of a sudden, people could no longer buy new ports or sailings or cools in their neighborhoods? in Baltimore City? Do you think they’re going to say, Okay, well, I’m going to switch to the, no, they’re gonna have somebody drive down to Richmond, Virginia, load up a u haul truck and bring them into Baltimore City. And now we’ve established an underground market for trafficking untaxed cigarettes to have a ban on them. And who’s going to get that enforcement job?

Gary Pinkerton 19:36
Yeah, the police and that’s your most important job.

Neill Franklin 19:40
There, police community relations, here goes our community policing program, because we’ve created an illicit market for something and then we have to go in and enforce it. No, yeah, let’s do what works, educate treat on tobacco consumption. So that’s just an example of some of the policies we add advocate against, no, let’s not ban tobacco, you know, in any size, shape or form. Let’s continue to educate people where we’ve already reduced tobacco consumption by about 40% over the past two and a half decades, and we’re not sending people to jail. We’re not trying to arrest people for smuggling cigarettes and all that good stuff. So again, this is what we do. But go to our website, look under police, community relations, look under incarceration, see the many things that we support and what we’re trying to change. And then we have ways for you to help us, you know, to be an advocate, especially if you find something that you’re passionate about, I guarantee you, if you go to our website, and start going in each one of those silos, you’re going to find something that you’re absolutely passionate about, maybe hits close to home, and you’ll see what we advocate for and then you can easily contact us and find out how you can support the work that we’re doing. And of course, we’re always as a new nonprofit organization doing some very good work out there. We can always use your hard earned money to do this very difficult and important work. So

Gary Pinkerton 21:09
and I’m sure you can Wow. So I’m gonna head over there, I’m sure I’m sure you’re right. There’s gonna be some stuff that I’m passionate about. I’m passionate about a lot of things in this world. Man. So it’s been a tremendous talk, and it has blown by Neil, I really appreciate it. Any last things that you want to you want to point towards the audience.

Neill Franklin 21:27
All I can say is, don’t go through life, you know, thinking that everything’s fine. Make sure you’re engaged in your community and your local government. You don’t have to be engaged in Washington, DC and capitol hill on what’s happening there. Just make sure you’re engaged in your local community, your local government, volunteering your services, getting out there making a difference, right in your own community so many times, and I get it, we work hard, we’re busy. We play hard and we just want to come home and shut our doors and lock ourselves in. But a healthy community is a community where the people communicate and relate on a consistent basis with each other. And sometimes it’s difficult. And you know what? We’re in it. Yeah, it is well worth it. So that’s my advice.

Gary Pinkerton 22:16
Well said Well said, Neil, thank you so much for spending some time with the heroic investing audience. 

Neill Franklin 22:20
Now, my pleasure here. 

Gary Pinkerton 22:22
Thanks, sir. Take care.

Announcer 22:25
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