Dallas City Council Is Cool With A Possible Cite-And-Release Program For People Caught Holding Weed.
Earlier today, a Dallas City Council majority announced that it supports the installation of a six-month pilot program in which Dallas police will hand out tickets to people they catch holding fewer than four ounces of marijuana, as opposed to arresting and booking them on the spot as has historically been the case.
The idea behind this cite-and-release program — still technically a proposal at this point for reasons we’ll soon explain — is that it’ll save DPD time and money. Per DPD Chief David Brown, marijuana possession arrests make up just 2 percent of all Dallas arrests, but take an estimated 30 minutes per encounter.
This is not the first time such a concept has been proposed: First in 2007, then last year, and now again today, this has been a topic of discussion at City Hall. State law has allowed Dallas to implement such a process since 2007, but Dallas has perpetually dragged its feet in this regard for damn near a decade.
This latest cite-and-release proposal would allow police to cite offenders with a citation to appear in court in about two weeks, presuming offenders are carrying with them a valid state-issued ID, have no prior convictions that could enhance the charge, are at least 17 years of age and are willing to provide a thumbprint and to sign the citation.
The move could put a dent in Dallas’ jail population for non-violent offenders — DPD currently averages between 100 and 120 misdemeanor marijuana arrests per month — in addition to saving officers time and in turn improving response times for other, more important calls.
At today’s meeting, council member Philip Kingston stood out as a vocal supporter for this program, per Dallas Morning News reports. No surprise there: Kingston’s stance on marijuana isn’t exactly a secret. Earlier this week, Kingston linked to a DMN report on the proposal and posted the following update to his Facebook page:
I had a conversation last year with Matt Appelbaum, Mayor of Boulder, in which he said that their worst facilities and infrastructure problem in Boulder was that their city hall had a small secure storage area and they were running out of room to hold all the sales tax receipts they collected from marijuana sales.
What a humblebragging motherfucker this Appelbaum fellow is. But he’s got a point — and one that Kingston, who says he’d legalize weed if it was up to him, has been all too happy to share.
Also helping Kingston’s case: A disproportionate amount of marijuana arrests find black and Hispanic people in jail. An article published by the New York Times last year states that “whites and blacks use marijuana at roughly the same rates; on average, however, blacks are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession, according to a comprehensive 2013 report by the A.C.L.U.” (According to the Times, Texas sits below the national average with blacks Americans being arrested 2.3 more times than whites.) This disparity is in part why President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of nearly 200 nonviolent drug offenders, because minorities are subject to overzealous and harsh sentencing.
Today’s meeting doesn’t necessarily mean this idea is going to be put into place right away, however. Mayor Mike Rawlings and council member Sandy Greyson were among its vocal dissenters, saying that, while they supported the notion of the program, they had concerns about the fairness of its implementation. Specifically, their concerns center around the fact that parts of Dallas are not actually in Dallas County, and are instead located within Collin and Denton counties, and determining how to handle these parts of town should, if nothing else, at least delay the program’s start.
Wait, what? There are parts of Dallas not in Dallas County? Bring that one up next time you and some pals share a joint if you really wanna blow some minds.