NYPD to stop arresting people for minor marijuana offenses - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

NYPD to stop arresting people for minor marijuana offenses

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK (NBC) - New Yorkers facing low-level marijuana charges may soon be issued summonses instead of being taken to precinct houses in handcuffs, senior law enforcement officials told the New York Times.

The paper reports that the NYPD is expected to begin telling officers to issue tickets rather than make arrests in cases where people caught with small amounts of pot. The decision would represent a major shift in policing in New York City, where officers have arrested tens of thousands of people yearly on minor marijuana possession charges, and comes as Mayor de Blasio meets with the city's five district attorneys for the first time since taking office in January.

City Hall and law enforcement officials are still hammering out the particulars of the plan, the Times says. Questions about the amount of pot a person could possess without being arrested and whether police should treat lit and unlit cannabis differently remain unanswered. Also unclear is when the new policy would go into effect.

The Times says that under current practices, about half of the people arrested on marijuana charges are released with an appearance ticket after being fingerprinted and checked for open warrants. The other half remain in police custody until they can appear before a judge for an arraignment hearing.

As many as 50,000 people a year were arrested on low-level marijuana charges during the Bloomberg administration. The number of people arrested fell to about 28,000 in 2013, with arrest totals forecast to again hit that number this year Blacks and Latinos disproportionately make up for the number of people arrested, with about 86 percent of those cuffed on low-level pot charges from January to August coming from those two racial groups.

The policy shift would follow Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson's decision to stop prosecuting minor marijuana possession charges. The Times reports that Thompson's office has dismissed 849 of the borough's 2,526 misdemeanor pot cases since he announced the change in July.

Thompson told the Times Sunday he was concerned the city's plan would hurt some of the people it intends to help because it would take prosecutors who could dismiss cases out of the loop.

“By allowing these cases to avoid early review, by issuing a summons, there is a serious concern that many summonses will be issued without the safeguards currently in place,” Thompson said. “These cases will move forward even when due process violations might have occurred."

De Blasio campaigned in 2013 on reforming the NYPD, criticizing the department's marijuana arrest policies along with other heavy-handed policing practices, like stop-and-frisk.
Powered by Frankly