Jeff Harper/Metro File Photo A Halifax pot smoker prepares to light a joint.

The new chief of Halifax Regional Police is getting praise for the “groundbreaking” decision to hear a presentation from a group dedicated to reforming current drug laws.

The president of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) Canada made an hour-long presentation to Chief Jean-Michel Blais and senior police management Tuesday on drug prohibition.

LEAP is made up of current and former law enforcement officers devoted to ending the failed war on drugs by legalizing, regulating and taxing illegal substances.

Canadian president David Bratzer said it’s the first time a Canadian police chief has asked a LEAP representative to address serving officers.

“It shows a police chief who’s open-minded and willing to engage in dialogue about complex issues,” said Bratzer. “It is groundbreaking. In my view, what he did is national police leadership. I can’t say enough about it, I’m so impressed.”

Blais said he invited Bratzer to speak in the interests of being open to a range of new ideas on policing.

“As we continue looking at the sustainability of policing practices here in HRM…overall, what are we doing? Does this make sense?” he said. “We may not agree with his points…but it doesn’t mean we can’t listen and learn from there.”

Bratzer, a police officer in British Columbia, said the presentation seemed well-received.

“These senior officers are very experienced and they asked some good questions,” said Bratzer, adding that his views do not represent those of his employer.  “It’s exactly what we need, to be having a national discussion about this issue.”

Blais said Bratzer made some compelling points, and said he’d recommend a LEAP presentation to other police chiefs in Nova Scotia.

“I’d be willing to do (that) in an effort to allow them to understand some of the challenges that are there, and some of the intellectual opportunities for a rational discussion,” he said.

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