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 video titled “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 everyday,” 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, 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 a dangerous drug.
“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 sitting in an 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 of 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 in 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 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.
He said the video would only show footage of how certain things interfered with a search and would not go into details, but the promotion says he will show the viewer how to beat the system.
Cooper said he does not condone illegal activity - and does not use drugs himself - but if someone misuses his product, he can’t be held responsible.
“I have attorneys telling me that what I am doing is not illegal,” he said.
“I’m just selling a product.”
Local attorney Bobby Mims agrees.
“I have seen the video, and a lot of people aren’t going to like it, but it’s my opinion everything he says is protected,” Mims said. “And in my experience, the information he’s presenting is truthful, as well.”
When asked what he would have thought about a similar video being released when he was a peace officer, he replied, “At that time I believed what I was taught by our government about marijuana and I would have disagreed with it (the video) until I interviewed the maker of the video.”
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, seized more than 50 vehicles and more than $500,000 in cash and assets.
Richard Sanders, Tyler Drug Enforcement Agency bureau agent in charge, was aggravated by the soon-to-be-released video.
“It outrages me personally as I’m sure it does any officer that has sworn an oath to uphold the laws of this state, and nation,” he said. “It is clear that his whole deal is to make money and he has found some sort of scheme, but for him to go to the dark side and do this is infuriating.”
Sanders said there is no formal investigation currently, but that might change.
“I’m sure we will make time to look into this as quickly as possible and there could be an investigation.” he said.
Big Sandy Chief of Police Tim Scott said he could not believe anyone with former experience in the War on Drugs would give any help to criminals.
“He’s going to tell all the ones we have been fighting how to get away with it and that makes me mad,” he said.
Texas Department of Public Safety Narcotics Service Capt. Mark Milanovich said he was going to wait and see what the video showed, but added he has serious problems with the idea.
“I think this guy needs to take a look at himself morally,” he said.
Cooper, who raised his voice and became animated, said the government tells children that marijuana is a gateway to other illegal narcotics, but that’s false.
“It’s a scare tactic and it’s untrue,” he said.
Cooper said the public has been educated to believe that people who smoke marijuana are responsible for crimes.
“Marijuana makes you happy, then intoxicated, then sleepy,” he said. “It doesn’t make you crazy.”
The “gateway drug” label is a fallacy, he said.
“If there was a gateway drug it would be alcohol,” he said.
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 by 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.”
Roy Maynard covers county government and politics. He can be reached at 903-596-6291, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenneth Dean covers police, fire, public safety
organizations. He can be reached at 903-596-6353, e-mail: email@example.com
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