Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16: Seminar with Retired Dutch Police Union President, Hans Van Duijn

What a terrific opportunity for us to discuss the impact of drug policy on law enforcement, and the way that Mr. Van Duijn's experience has shaped his opposition to prohibition. A wonderful bookend to our meeting with Jim Geirach, also a member of LEAP, in Chicago.

From Mr. Van Duijn's profile at the LEAP site: ""The fight against drug related crime has had few positive results and represents a heavy burden on police resources"

Hans van Duijn In 2006 when Hans van Duijn was president of the Dutch Police Union, one of his colleagues interviewed LEAP member Jerry Cameron who was in The Netherlands for a conference. Cameron's interview brought much media attention and acted as a catalyst to van Duijn, ultimately inciting him to add his voice to the rising tide of law enforcement speaking out against drug prohibition:
"A Constitutional State must understand that it can't control the attitudes of people regarding their basic rights or beliefs or needs through unreasonable prohibitions. It's all about awareness. Once you understand that some laws are totally false you can't close your eyes and say 'it's not about me' because I don't use drugs. In that situation we have the duty -- in the interest of the community -- to step forward and take responsibility in helping to change the situation. We have to realize that the only reason to end our efforts will be when prohibition is ended."
Van Duijn grew up in a poor part of Rotterdam, Netherlands with one brother. His father died when Hans was young and thus his hard-working mother was often gone but this provided Hans with a perspective of people, needs and service that would be the foundation for his future. He entered police work on behalf of the people, because of that basic and dynamic function of defending society from bad people.
Van Duijn served in many areas of the Rotterdam Police dept, beginning in 1967 as a "street cop" with 200 other officers and later, with the “Seaport Police Division” (Rotterdam is Europe’s largest seaport). These two areas provided a unique awareness of illegal sales, addiction and smuggling which many in law enforcement hardly ever experience. As his career advanced, van Duijn's know-how was put to use, as he became the head of the department of personnel and training of the entire 5000 member Amsterdam police force. His duties included responsibility for recruitment, training, work and labor conditions and in medical and psychological assistance in Human Resource Management.
Clearly respected by his colleagues, van Duijn led NPB or "Nederlandse Politiebond"--the Dutch Police Union of more than 23,000 members for 15 years until his retirement in 2008.
Van Duijn believes people need to be convinced that ending the War on Drugs will bring resources for training and increased employability for young people. He also passionately believes police officers and others must become aware of Prohibition harms so they can't avoid the issue. Van Duijn finds himself in a new roll, as a LEAP advisory board member and as someone sought out internationally for his expert opinion on drug policy reform. He enjoys time with his grand children and hopes his efforts will help to end the prohibition of drugs and make the world a better place them and others."

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