NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Wesley Pomeroy, Police Officer and Drug Policy Reformer, Dies at 78


May-June 1998

On May 4, Wesley A. Pomeroy, former law enforcement officer and advocate for drug policy reform, died from heart failure at age 78 (Robert McG. Thomas Jr., "Wesley Pomeroy, 78, Security Chief at Woodstock, Dies," New York Times, May 15, 1998).

A native of Burbank, CA, Pomeroy received a law degree from the San Francisco Law School. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific in World War II. Pomeroy worked as a police officer in California during the 1940s through the 1960s and was in charge of security at the contentious 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco. He used communication and cooperation for crowd control, instead of threats and force. Pomeroy's progressive policing tactics proved successful in maintaining peace and earned him national attention. In 1968, U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark appointed him as special assistant to coordinate federal anti-crime efforts. He was named the Republican member of the three-member board to run the new Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, but was replaced shortly after President Nixon took office in 1969.

Pomeroy, who later became a Democrat, served as security chief at the 1969 Woodstock music festival in New York. His success led to assignments as security chief for a Led Zeppelin rock tour and other large events. In 1974, Pomeroy became chief of police in Berkeley, CA. In 1977, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he held several posts in the Carter Administration, including assistant director of the DEA.

He served four years as Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Mental Health during the early 1980s. In 1983, he was named head of the Dade County (Miami) police review board and retired in 1995.

He was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and had been a board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Pomeroy was a long-standing member of the National Drug Strategy Network. He served on the board of the Drug Policy Foundation for many years.

[Wes Pomeroy was wise and warm. He was always a source of good advice and counsel. He always provided encouragement and comfort in the struggle for justice. For many years he was a behind the scenes leader for drug policy reform. -- EES]

His family asks that gifts in his memory be sent to the Unrepresented People's Positive Action Council or the NAACP, Opa Locka, FL branch in care of his widow, Lana Pomeroy Carol , 3320-B Simms St., Hollywood, FL 33021.