Norm Stamper

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Norm Stamper
Born 1944 (age 73–74)
San Diego, California
Police career

Seattle Police Department

San Diego Police Department
Years of service 1966 – March 2000
Rank Chief of Police
Other work consultant, advisor, writer

Norman Harvey Stamper (born 1944) is an American former chief of police and writer.[1]

Stamper is known for his role as Chief of the Seattle Police Department (1994-2000) responsible for Seattle's response to the protests of the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999, which eventually led to his resignation.[2] Stamper has expressed regret about his decisions at the time. When discussing the use of chemical agents such as tear gas Stamper declared it was a mistake and said "The chief in me should have said, 'For the greater good, we ought not to have brought those chemical agents out. We ought not to have, I think, raised the stakes.'"[3]

He was a police officer for 34 years, the first 28 in San Diego, and has a doctorate in Leadership and Human Behavior. He is the author of many articles and op-eds (New York Times, The New Yorker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, AlterNet, among others). He has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs, including The Colbert Report, The O’Reilly Factor, and shows hosted by Amy Goodman, Cornel West, Mike Huckabee, and others. He is also a blogger for The Huffington Post.

Since his resignation, Stamper has called for the legalization of all drugs and the case-by-case release of persons incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.[4] He serves as an advisory board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition as well as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.[4][5] He has also starred in the documentary The Union: The Business Behind Getting High.

He also serves on the Constitution Project’s Death Penalty Committee as well as Death Penalty Focus, organizations working to end executions. He was a founding member of the National Advisory Council on the Violence Against Women Act, and is committed to eradicating domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.

Stamper is the author of a book entitled Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing.[6]

In response to the Occupy demonstrations, he has reiterated his regret about how he handled the protests in Seattle, and publicly stated the need to create an alternative to what he termed "the paramilitary bureaucracy that is American policing", stating no change will happen "unless, even as we cull 'bad apples' from our police forces, we recognize that the barrel itself is rotten".[7]


  1. ^ "Norm Stamper's Police Career". The Seattle Times. 1999-12-07. 
  2. ^ Rick Anderson (1999-12-01). "Protesters riot, police riot". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  3. ^ Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Norm Stamper (2009-03-30). Democracy Now! “I Made Major Mistakes”–Ex-Seattle Police Chief Admits Response to 1999 WTO Protests Was Too Heavy-Handed. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  4. ^ a b Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Norm Stamper (2009-03-30). Democracy Now! Citing Failed War on Drugs, Former Seattle Police Chief Calls for Legalization of Marijuana and All Drugs. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  5. ^ "Norm Stamper". About NORML. 2006-12-29. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  6. ^ Hector Castro (2005-06-14). "A moment with ... Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief". Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  7. ^ "Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street". Retrieved 2011-11-21.