Major Neill Franklin is a 34-year law enforcement veteran of the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department and current executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
Early in his career, Major Franklin served as a narcotics agent with the Maryland State police, focusing on everything from high-level drug dealers in the Washington suburbs to the guy growing one marijuana plant on his balcony. He later served as commander for the Education and Training Division and the Bureau of Drug and Criminal Enforcement. Major Franklin instituted and oversaw the very first Domestic Violence Investigative Units for the Maryland State Police. After 23 years of dedicated service to the Maryland State Police, he was recruited in 2000 by the Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department to reconstruct and command Baltimore's Education and Training Section.
Two people permanently changed Major Franklin's thoughts on the drug war. The first was Mayor Kurt Schmoke, who declared while he was the sitting mayor of Baltimore that the drug war was not working. Mayor Schmoke explained that fighting a war on drugs was counter productive and created excessive violence. This was a turning point for Major Franklin, who began to research and evaluate his own experiences in law enforcement. "We worked in predominantly white areas, yet most of our cases and lock ups were minorities. There were very few cases in the outlying areas that involved whites," he says.
Not long after Mayor Schmok's announcement, Major Franklin's close friend, Corporal Ed Toatley, was killed in Washington, DC while making a drug deal as an undercover agent. "When Ed was assassinated in October 2000, that is when I really made the turn. That's when I decided to make my views public", Major Franklin explains. He became executive director of LEAP in 2010.
Major Franklin volunteers his time by serving on many boards that include Children 1st, the Faith Based Community Council on Law Enforcement and Intelligence, the Place of Grace Church, Anne Arundel Community College Criminal Justice Advisory Board, and is board president for TurnAround, Inc. which helps domestic violence and sexual assault victims by providing counseling and shelter services. Major Franklin is married and has one son. He is also very active in his church, The Place of Grace.