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Howard Wooldridge considers himself to be somewhat of a modern-day Paul Revere. But while Revere alerted the masses that the British were coming, Wooldridge has a much different message that all drugs should be legalized in the United States.
Wooldridge is taking to his saddle bike saddle, that is to ride across the country to bring awareness to drug prohibition. The former law enforcement official traveled through the Ogden and Salt Lake City areas Wednesday as he weaved his way from Newport, Ore., to Savannah, Ga., spreading the message that he believes the war on drugs has been a failure of government policy.
The 60-year-old Texas native spent 18 years as a detective in Michigan, working on many drug-related or drug-motivated crimes. He said through that time, he realized that if drugs were taxed and legalized, many of those crimes would no longer be an issue.
"When I became a detective and saw the massive number of crime victims, that's when I switched to an anti-prohibition person," Wooldridge said in a phone interview. "Eighty percent of my case loads touched crimes with drug prohibition. My sympathy was for the crime victims. I knew after years of being a police officer, the government cannot fix stupid."
He said that rather than the government punishing drug users, the substances should be viewed like alcohol or tobacco, where family and friends are tasked to help when a user's actions are harmful or out of control. Wooldridge said he has lobbied in Washington, D.C., for the last six years as a part of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which he co-founded. He said its main goal in legalizing drugs is to protect children who are often victimized because of current drug laws. He said teenagers are often used to sell drugs by older dealers because if the teens are caught, they don't face the same minimum charges that adults do.
He also said that by legalizing drugs, it will also allow law enforcement to focus on other serious crimes that are victimizing children in America.
"What really drives me to pedal is that we fly around in helicopters [looking for drugs] and we are missing pedophiles," he said. "As a detective, I've arrested pedophiles, I know what they do. I know we are missing them by going after the local Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg. This is the choice police officers make all over the country."This is the second time Wooldridge has traveled across the country to raise awareness on the subject. In 2003, he traveled the same route, going from Georgia to Oregon, while riding his firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @jm_miller