Cops Are Arresting Fewer Folks for Tiny Amounts of Weed


Back in September Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued an internal order telling cops to stop arresting people for minuscule amounts of pot found in their pockets or in bags (i.e., not in public view). This was in part due to claims of wrongful arrests and the stop and frisk policy, and as our Steven Thrasher pointed out in September, Kelly’s order came at an interesting time, following the announcement of Mayor Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative in August.

According to data released yesterday, this move (a reminder of a law that’s been on the books since 1977) has indeed limited the number of pot arrests in the city.

The Daily News points out that there are about 50,000 arrests on the pot charge per year, which is more than any other crime in the city and makes for one in seven cases in criminal courts.

Before the order, arrests were up 5% at 37,816. In the nine weeks after the directive, there were 7,925 arrests, or 13% fewer than the same period last year.

Presumably, this frees up the NYPD to do some other things, like arresting actual criminals.

So, carry your small amounts of pot in your pocket or bag with abandon! Just don’t smoke it in public view or pin it to the front of your jacket or ask an officer if he wants to share it with you. You’ll be arrested and may get jail time, and we’ll think you’re pretty dumb.

Update: WNYC reports that allegations of improper arrests continue and that, despite this recent data, marijuana arrests have not dipped that much, if at all: “According to state records, the police department is actually on track to make another 50,000 marijuana arrests in 2011, close to last year’s record total.”

Arrests for pot have dropped after Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly issued a warning [NYDN]

Related: Was Bloomberg’s Case of White Mayor’s Burden the Straw That Broke Ray Kelly’s Back?
Harry Levine of “We Are Always Encouraged When the Police Decide to Obey the Law”