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Sheriff Bill Masters on Peace Keeping and the Drug War

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
This episode originally was published on May 25, 2022, and reposted here on May 10, 2024.

Self in Society Podcast #27
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Sheriff Bill Masters discusses peace keeping and how that relates to the war on drugs. Masters, of Telluride, San Miguel County, is the longest serving sheriff in Colorado history, having taken over the position in 1980. Masters also is the author of the 2001 book, Drug War Addiction: Notes from the Front Lines of America's #1 Policy Disaster (which I helped to edit). This interview was recorded on May 23, 2022.

Time Markers
00 Intro
1:40 On being sheriff for 42 years
2:50 Peace keeping vs. law enforcement
4:11 What troubles Telluride: crime, rescues, wildfires
8:27 Peace keeping through the pandemic
10:07 Helping people with mental illness and addictions
12:34 Today's political parties
17:48 Being pro-immigrant
20:13 The war on drugs
27:33 The problem of addiction
31:09 When drug distribution is rights-violating
33:13 Civil liberties and the drug war
40:00 On speaking out
40:56 Legal marijuana in Colorado
44:06 The promise and problems of body cameras
50:54 Peace officers are held liable, judges and legislators aren't; cigarette example
55:11 Laws imply a potential deadly use of force
57:20 Telluride's Covid tourism ban
58:34 A sheriff's discretion
59:00 An honorable profession; "We need to have fewer laws, not more laws."
1:00:13 The downside of mandated auto insurance
1:02:14 The problem of hiring good peace officers
1:07:06 What gets rewarded?
1:10:14 Oriented to resolving conflicts
1:12:36 A need for thorough training
1:15:09 Don Coram and the Vietnam veteran
1:17:59 Bill's trip on the Nile
1:22:03 The charm of Telluride
1:23:58 What's new at the sheriff's office
1:27:55 Wrap-up

I mentioned Dwight Radcliff, who holds the record as longest-serving sheriff in U.S. history. (I think Masters is the longest-serving sheriff currently serving in the U.S.)

Masters's office posts its shared principles.

As I mentioned, a Telluride man was charged with the January 6 Capitol invasion.

CPR ran an article about Masters (which I cite) some years ago.

Eric Garner is the name of the person killed in New York over selling cigarettes.

Colorado passed relatively good asset forfeiture reforms some years ago, but I think they need revisiting, and other states have worse rules about that.

Update: Complete Colorado ran my article summarizing aspects of my discussion with Masters.

Following are a few photos of Masters from around the time of his book publication.

Speaking at the University of Colorado, Boulder (full-res):

Bill Masters speaking at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Speaking at the Cato Institute (full-res):

Bill Masters speaking at the Cato Institute.

Meeting Cato's David Boaz (full-res):

Bill Masters meeting David Boaz of the Cato Institute.

Touring Washington D. C. (full-res):

Bill Masters standing in front of the Washington Monument.

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