Sergeant Fired After Criticizing "War on Drugs," Now Reinstated FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 13, 2009
SEATTLE, WA -- A Mountlake Terrace police sergeant who was fired after publicly criticizing the "war on drugs" has reached an $812,500 settlement in a lawsuit he filed against the city and police department, among others. Under the settlement, Sergeant Jonathan Wender has been reinstated on the force and is eligible to receive back pay and full retirement benefits.
“In an open society, people on the front lines of the criminal justice system have an ethical duty to speak out on controversial social and legal issues that affect the public we serve," said Sgt. Wender, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a 10,000-strong organization representing police, prosecutors, judges and others who fought on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and who now want to legalize and regulate drugs. "The public has a fundamental right to know which laws and policies are effective, and which ones aren’t; and they should expect that their police officers will speak the truth even when it isn’t popular or comfortable to do so. I hope that the outcome of this case will help reassure police and other public officials that they can speak freely on controversial topics such as the urgent need to seek better ways to deal with the crisis of drugs that plagues American society.”
Sgt. Wender joined the police force in 1990 after graduating from college and was terminated in 2005. He holds a Pd.D. from Simon Fraser University and is currently a full-time sociology professor at the University of Washington. As part of the settlement, Sgt. Wender is back on the payroll at the Mountlake Terrace Police Department, where he will serve on administrative leave until he retires from the force on November 10, 2010 and can then qualify for his full pension.
"Jonathan Wender's victory is ours, as well. As was his fight," said Norm Stamper, the retired Seattle police chief and LEAP member. "Because of this fine man's courage and perseverance, and his willingness to tell the truth about the 'drug war,' we've all moved closer to putting an end to that war. I believe police officers across the country will be moved by Jonathan's example, and will raise their voices in support of LEAP's goal of ending drug prohibition."
The lawsuit was filed against the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office, the Mountlake Terrace Police Department, the City of Mountlake Terrace, the City of Lynnwood, and a handful of individual defendants.
For more information about LEAP, please contact Tom Angell at (202) 557-4979 or [email protected]