NORTH NEWTON, KAN – It’s not a war on drugs – it’s a war on people.
That’s the message veteran state police officer and former undercover narcotics detective Jack Cole will bring when he speaks on the Bethel College campus Sept. 26.
Cole is speaking at 7 p.m. at Kaufman House, 2515 College Ave. in North Newton, best known as the home of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR). The event is free and open to the public.
Cole knows about the “war on drugs” from several perspectives. He retired as a detective lieutenant after 26 years with the New Jersey State Police – 14 in narcotics, mostly as an undercover officer. His investigations spanned cases from street drug users to international, multi-billion-dollar drug trafficking organizations.
Cole ended his undercover career after nearly two years in Boston and New York City posing as a fugitive drug dealer wanted for murder while tracking members of a terrorist organization who robbed banks, planted bombs in corporate headquarters, courthouses, police stations and airplanes, and ultimately murdered a New Jersey state trooper.
Cole is a founding member, and was for eight years executive director, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization representing cops, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens and supporters from 86 countries who believe a system of legalized regulation of all drugs will remove the violence that results from drug prohibition. He is now LEAP board chair and frequently speaks nationally and internationally.
After retiring, Cole dealt with the emotional residue of his participation in what he sees as a failed and destructive war on drugs by working to reform current drug policy. He moved to Boston to continue his education. He holds a B.A. in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public policy.
His major focus is on issues of race and gender bias, and brutality and corruption in law enforcement. He has taught courses to police recruits and veteran officers on ethics, integrity, moral decision-making and detrimental effects of racial profiling.
As LEAP executive director, he presented papers at international conferences and spoke on drug policy reform to the Parliaments of Canada, Denmark, the European Union and New Zealand, as well as 1,300 times to law-enforcement, professional, civic, educational, political and religious organizations in 26 countries.
Cole is passionate in his belief that the drug war is steeped in racism and that it needlessly destroys the lives of young people and corrupts police. His presentations give audiences an alternative perspective of the U.S. war on drugs from a veteran drug warrior now turned against the war.
Between Sept. 22-29, Cole will be speaking at a number of venues in Wichita: First Unitarian Universalist Church (Sept. 22, 11 a.m.); Riney Fine Arts Building at Friends University (Sept. 24, 7 p.m.); the Kansas African-American Museum (Sept. 27, 7 p.m.); St. Mark’s United Methodist Church Family Life Center (Sept. 28, 10 a.m.); and Anna Murdoc’s Café in downtown Wichita (Sept. 29, 2 p.m.). All events are free and open to the public.
He will also address the Pachyderm luncheon at the Petroleum Club in Wichita, Sept. 27 at 11:45 a.m., for which there is a $10 charge. On Oct. 2, he will speak at the Kansas Silver-Haired Legislature Health and Welfare Committee meeting at the state capitol building in Topeka.
Sponsors for Jack Cole’s appearance in south-central Kansas are the Jobs and Education-Not Incarceration (JENI) Committee of the Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, First Unitarian Universalist Church, Friends University Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Pachyderm Club, The Group, The Community Voice, Women for Peace, Racial Profiling Advisory Board of Wichita, Kansas Justice Advocates and Justice Keepers.
Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2013-14 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2013-14. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.