UPDATE: DVD gets worldwide attention. London Times reporter: "Is this a bloody hoax?" More quotes from ex-co-workers in the Odessa American. See Grits past coverage of Texas drug task forces.
Law enforcement officers around East Texas were startled to find one of their former brothers of the badge is scheduled to begin selling a video describing how to avoid getting caught when stopped by police looking for illegal substances.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph has learned that Barry Cooper, a former Gladewater and Big Sandy police officer, is scheduled to begin selling his DVD "Never Get Busted Again," Tuesday with the launch of a Web site and a full page advertisement in a national publication targeted toward those interested in illicit drugs.
Smith County Deputy Constable Mark Waters, a drug interdiction officer, said he was appalled at the idea of a former officer selling such a video.
"It's an embarrassment to all law enforcement officers across the United States, who put their life on the line every day," he said. "This is a slap in the face to all that we do to uphold the laws and keep the public safe."
Cooper, once "the best" drug officer in West Texas, according to his former superiors, told the newspaper during an interview Wednesday night that he believes marijuana should be legalized, and that the imprisonment of those caught with the drug destroys their families and fills up jails and prisons across the country with non-violent offenders.
He added that methamphetamines, cocaine and crack should be eradicated from the earth because they are dangerous drugs. But he says marijuana is not.
"I know I won't be accepted by my peers here in East Texas, but in other areas of the country I will be celebrated," he said in his office in Tyler. "When I was raiding houses and destroying families, my conscience was telling me it was wrong, but my need for power, fame and peer acceptance overshadowed my good conscience."
A three-minute promotion for the video shows Cooper in West Texas when he was assigned to the Permian Basin Drug Task Force being interviewed by media on large busts he made.
The promotion has Cooper saying he is going to show people through actual footage of his busts how to not get caught, how to "conceal their stash (do coffee grounds really work?)," "avoid narcotics profiling" and how to "fool canines every time."
Cooper, who has no disciplinary actions on his law enforcement record, left law enforcement to pursue the ministry and a successful business. He said he also felt pressure from other law enforcement agencies that were jealous of busts he made, and the political pressures associated with arresting a mayor's son and a city council member on drug charges.
Cooper argues that people are being sentenced to long prison terms for drugs when murderers, child molesters and rapists are getting shorter sentences.
"The trillions of dollars we're spending in the war on drugs should be used to protect our children," he said. "Our children are being molested every day and everyone knows we have lost the war on drugs."
Cooper believes marijuana should be legalized and regulated by the government which he says will cause the crime rate to drop. He points to Prohibition, America's failed experiment in outlawing alcoholic beverages. Prohibition merely empowered the criminals, he says, and that's just what's happening now with prohibited drugs.
"We have cops and other people getting killed, and I believe we could end all of that," he said. ...
Cooper's former commander with the Permian Basin Drug Task Force said he was "completely shocked."
Tom Finley, now a private investigator in Midland, said he was Cooper's boss in the 1990s and said Cooper was the best drug interdiction officer he had ever known.
"He was even better than he says he was," he said. "He had a knack for finding drugs and made more arrests, more seizures than all of the other agents combined. He was probably the best narcotics officer in the state and maybe the country during his time with the task force."
However, Finley said he was distraught to learn the video plans of his former "top cop."
"I'm definitely not in agreement with what he is doing here and I am all for getting the drug offenders off the streets and putting them behind bars," he said.
Cooper claims to have made more than 800 drug arrests and seized more than 50 vehicles and more than $500,000 in cash and assets. ...
Cooper said he does not agree with the current laws and hopes they change through legislation and sees this as a way to truly combat the nation's drug problems.
"My main motivation in all of this is to teach Americans their civil liberties, and what drives me in this is injustice and unfairness in our system," he said. "I'm just teaching them how to not ruin their lives by being put in a cage. I'm not creating the problem; it is already there."
Cooper said he knows there will be backlash from some, while others will agree with him.
"I challenge anyone who doesn't agree with me to a public debate to hear what I have to say and I bet some people will change their minds," he said. "But I'm sure some will think of me as the devil."
NUTHER UPDATE: D'Alliance says the DEA is investigating to see if Cooper's product breaks any laws.
See the trailer here. Very interesting.
Cooper's website is now live. Check it out for yourself.