The Union Leader’s Jason Schreiber reports:
EPPING – A police officer who fought publicly to keep his job has resigned from the police department and has also been given the boot as a member of an international group that wants to legalize drugs.
Leaders of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates liberalization of drug laws, moved to distance themselves from Officer Bradley Jardis, who suggested in recent online postings that he would not enforce certain drug laws.
Jardis, of Hooksett, quit the police department on Monday, saying he could no longer work there after comments that Police Chief Gregory Dodge made about his job performance when he tried to have him fired recently.
Jardis, 29, has been at the center of controversy over internal disputes with police superiors and his affiliation with LEAP.
The resignation came at the same time that LEAP informed Jardis he was no longer allowed to serve as a member of the group, which includes current and former law enforcement officers who oppose existing drug laws.
In a letter to Jardis, Jack A. Cole, LEAP’s executive director, said the group’s executive board decided at a meeting Saturday that Jardis couldn’t continue to represent LEAP. Jardis made the letter public by posting it in an online forum.
The decision to kick Jardis out was made after the board learned that he had posted a comment in an online forum stating that he would no longer arrest a person who possesses, uses or grows marijuana to treat a medical condition.
Jardis, who has spoken publicly many times on behalf of LEAP, urged other New Hampshire police officers not to make the arrests either, claiming it’s unconstitutional to charge a sick person using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“This is the opposite of what LEAP requires of our representatives,” Cole said in his letter. “We have always said that we will in no way ask that any law enforcer decline to do his or her duty by refusing to enforce the laws as they are currently recorded. That would be unethical and wrong. What we do call on them for (to) is take action on their off-duty time to help us change those laws.”
Cole added that Jardis’ actions have “caused people to lose respect for our organization, which leads to a loss of our credibility within the public, the media and the policymakers … the very people whom we are trying to convince to change these laws.”
Jardis said yesterday that LEAP “has shown that they support automaton policing in that their representatives are forbidden from coming to a constitutional or moral conclusion that enforcing a law is unconstitutional or unjust. … Just because a law is on the books, it doesn’t mean it is moral or constitutional.”
The dismissal from LEAP came just as Jardis was returning to work in Epping after being suspended and placed on paid leave after a dispute with his sergeant over his handling of a case last summer.
In August, Dodge, the police chief, ordered that Jardis be suspended for insubordination and violating police procedures. Dodge recommended that Jardis be fired.
He fought his suspension and after a public hearing in November, selectmen agreed to let him return to work if he passed a psychological evaluation. He passed that exam earlier this month.
“Brad was cleared to return to work and I was looking forward to moving on,” Dodge said yesterday.
Jardis said that while selectmen allowed him to return, “disparaging comments made by Chief Dodge during his attempt to have me fired made it impossible for me to return and be an effective Epping police officer.”