The NYPD (New York Police Department) had to abandon its stop and frisk practice after it was found unconstitutional. The policy was meant to set people up for charges like possession of illegal substances, rather than tackle crimes that were actually happening. More specifically, it was used to target minority populations.
With that tool gone, officers of the NYPD had to find a new way to fulfill their quotas. During the first six months of 2016, arrests for marijuana possession soared by 30% – in spite of the fact that marijuana possession is no longer a crime in New York City. In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio downgraded possession of less than 25 mg. to a violation rather than a misdemeanor. Basically, possession is no more serious than a traffic ticket.
RESEARCH DOESNT BACK NYPDS APPROACH
Nevertheless, the NYPD has gone after marijuana fans with a vengeance. Rather, they have gone after SOME marijuana fans with a vengeance. In 2016, the vast majority of those arrested for marijuana possession have been minorities. According to Robert Gangi, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP):
Though research and experience demonstrate that white people use and sell marijuana in proportions and numbers equal to or greater than African-Americans & Latinos, 90 percent of NYPD arrests for marijuana offenses in 2016 have involved New Yorkers of color.
Its easy to see whats going on here. But in case theres any doubt, 8-year NYPD veteran Edwin Raymond spelled it out. He joined a class-action lawsuit against the department for quota-based policing, a big factor in the stop and frisk policy. Raymond said:
Say they want five arrests a month from every officer. Theyll keep pressuring you until you get that. Marijuana becomes the easiest arrest because everybody smokes weed – across ethnicities and racial lines. Its a minor infraction, its the low-hanging fruit.
Everybody smokes weed, but not everybody gets arrested. Director Gangi noted that, the last time he visited Manhattan criminal court, there were eight marijuana arrests on the docket. Seven of the defendants were people of color – just another day of business as usual for the NYPD.
Not surprisingly, police commissioner Bill Bratton has been the target of protests by Black Lives Matter, due to police violence during his tenure. One of the groups demands has been his removal from office. In an interesting coincidence, the release of the new NYPD data came at virtually the same time as an announcement that Bratton will resign in September.
STOP AND FRISK FIRST, NOW POT – NY IS IN A TIME WARP
The resigning commissioner claims credit for the end of stop and frisk but hes mum on how replacing it with pot arrests. Brattons attitudes toward weed are reminiscent of the reefer madness hysteria of the 1930s. Recently, he went on local radio to make the preposterous claims that not only is marijuana the root of most violent crime in NYC, but its also as dangerous as heroin.
Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) called Bratton remarkably unenlightened and emphasized the effect such irresponsible words have:
If youre a patrol officer, if youre a narcotics detective, if youre a prosecutor in New York City and you pick up the Daily News or whatnot and read those absurd things Bratton was saying just a week ago about marijuana, that kind of gives you carte blanche to keep doing what youre doing – shaking down people for marijuana.
Brattons impending resignation created a celebratory mood for many. Activist Madel Hidalgo was on her way to a protest when she heard the news. She said:
I ran over here, and I was dancing on the train.
But whether the change really signals improvement in NYPDs racist policies remains to be seen. Brattons replacement – up-through-the-ranks officer James ONeill – was practically hand-picked by the police commissioner.
ONeill was also the author of a new policing program called neighborhood policing, supposedly meant to heal relations between the police and communities. Activists are skeptical. Madel Hidalgo isnt impressed. She said:
Its more having more [police] presence, which means scaring more people of color. Thats all I see.
Considering the history, why should she think anything else?
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: NYPD Replaces ‘Stop And Frisk’ With Ramped Up Pot Arrests
Author: Deborah Montesano
Contact: American News X
Photo Credit: Jason Eppink
Website: American News X