By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
By Jeff Balke
Cooper's not the kind of guy to sit still for long. He bounced around, owning car lots, tire shops and limo services in the one-stoplight, speed-trap towns of East Texas, eventually opening up a cage-fighting league called Xtreme Fight Championship. It was a good fit for him. Over the years, he's wound up in jail a few times, for unlawfully carrying a pistol, for assault, for making threats, for failing to return Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers II. All of the charges were dropped down or dismissed, although he is guilty of having bad taste in movies.
His feelings towards his former colleagues were already pretty low by the time his ex-brother-in-law, a constable, showed up at the house with an order to remove his daughters, he says, and take them to their mother. Cooper says he wasn't there at the time, and the girls put up such a fuss that they were allowed to stay, but he thought of them, their tears and screams, and it all began to sink in.
"I started remembering back to all the lives I destroyed, and my conscience was speaking to me," he says. He remembered kicking in the doors of mothers and fathers, taking them away for pot possession. "And then I realized our government lied to me, training me marijuana was evil like all the other substances. I was lied to. So it angered me. I got upset."
He had a mission, but he still didn't have a plan. "I had started another little church where we had R-rated church services," he says. "Kids had to go next door, 'cause I got real. Underground people came from everywhere, but they didn't have enough money to keep it open. So I was, like, ÔHow can I use my gifts to help people?'"
And just like that, just over three months ago, he came up with Never Get Busted Again. At the age of 37, Barry Cooper had found his cause.
Cut to Cooper, driving down a drizzly interstate in a black Suburban. He's demonstrating profiling techniques, and from the way he's analyzing all the cars around him, it's easy to forget he's not still a cop. That is, until he says, "If I injected you with adrenaline, certain doses every day and all day long, like a cop gets, you would become addicted to that adrenaline and need more and more and more and more of it."
Cooper says he used to tell drug offenders they were under arrest and not cuff 'em right away, hoping for a fight or flight. When pulling people over, sometimes he'd light them up from far behind, just so they could consider flooring it. The adrenaline was addictive. And that high is what fuels the war on drugs, he says.
"Interdiction officers, narcotics officers, are not out here to help the American people, and they're not out here to keep drugs out of the hands of school kids. Drug dealers are not dealing drugs to your ten-year-old on the playground. For one, ten-year-olds don't have any money. For two, ten-year-olds are not doing the drugs. That's all a government ploy."
These aren't the kinds of things cops want to hear, and Cooper's former supervisor can't help but wonder what he's getting at. "Evidently he's starting this deal to make money, but there's lots of ways to make money besides going in with the enemy," says Tom Finley. "Truth is, he was a good narcotics officer. And I guess if he wanted to switch sides and haul drugs, he'd probably be a good drug hauler, and he'll probably make a good tape, but that don't make it right." Tim Scott, current chief of police in Big Sandy, says he doesn't know Cooper personally, but he echoes Finley's concerns. "Unless he's running dope himself, and he's wanting to help his guys out so they'll pay him, I really don't know what his deal is," he says. "I don't know if he just got a bad taste or if he just decided he would make more money helping the bad guys or what. I just don't understand it. I can't see why he'd want to help the other side."
But there aren't two sides, says Cooper. The drug war is bad for cops too. It encourages gang activity. It funds terrorists. It takes time away from catching murderers and rapists. "My response to them is: Just put your emotions aside. Look at the facts, not opinions and beliefs, look at the facts of the argument and then you'll understand and agree," he says. "They're just misinformed. They've had propaganda pushed into their heads by our government, and they really believe what they are doing is right."
He's received a lot of negative attention since the Tyler Morning Telegraph first broke the story over Christmas. Fox News called him a good cop gone bad. Anonymous comments on blogs said he was endangering his former coworkers. Pro-legalization Web sites questioned whether he was a narc in disguise. All of this has been good for DVD sales, but it all came a little too fast. As of last week, Cooper was still finishing the video. He says it'll be done just in time for the tail end of his site's two-to-six-weeks delivery promise.