To say that Mayor Bill de Blasio is beneath numerous strain to reform policing in New York City can be an understatement. Among the myriad points and complaints towards the NYPD, a current report exhibits that New York’s best has arrested a disproportionate variety of minorities for marijuana possession. In response to public uproar, De Blasio introduced final week that the NYPD might be making main modifications. First and foremost, they may not be arresting individuals for possessing small quantities of weed.
Unequal Policing in New York City
A report on “Marijuana, Fairness and Public Safety” launched by the New York District Attorney’s workplace seems at federal and state-level marijuana insurance policies. It highlights the persistent racial disparities in marijuana arrests in New York City and presents the police some recommendation.
According to District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., 86 % of the 16,925 individuals arrested for marijuana possession have been individuals of colour. This breaks down to 38 % Hispanic and 48 % African-American. For context, 53 % of New Yorkers are Black or Hispanic in accordance to a current census.
City Councilmembers Call Out the NYPD
Back in February, the City Council held a listening to throughout which they reviewed these statistics and heard from the police. Looking again at New York’s historical past of racial policing, Councilman Donovan Richards stated, “The racial disparities have not changed one bit, and arrests are still too common in communities of color.”
In protection, the NYPD argued that some neighborhoods referred to as in additional complaints than others. These led to greater marijuana arrest charges. Councilman Richards responded, “I refuse to believe that in New York City, a city of eight and a half million, that the only individuals calling 911 or 311 on this issue are people in communities in color.”
And he was proper, in accordance to new knowledge. The report revealed by the District Attorney’s workplace refuted this declare by quantifying 311 calls. The report reads, “Of the five precincts where the most marijuana arrests occurred in 2017, only two were in the top five for the number of marijuana-related calls.” This held true for 2016 as properly.
Even communities the place individuals of shade are within the minority skilled unequal marijuana policing. For occasion, African-American and Hispanic residents account for 16 % of Forest Hills, Queens’ inhabitants. However, 80 % of individuals arrested for weed possession in Forest Hills have been individuals of colour.
De Blasio Plans Overhaul of New York City Policing
Last week, De Blasio introduced the “overhaul and reform” of NYPD’s marijuana coverage. He promised the viewers at a Center for American Progress Ideas occasion, “We must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement.” Changes, he stated, are coming within the subsequent thirty days.
Only a number of days after his announcement, De Blasio and the District Attorney are already working in the direction of reform. Phil Walzak, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, advised CNN, “The [NYPD] working group is reviewing possession and public smoking of marijuana to ensure enforcement is consistent with the values of fairness and trust, while also promoting public safety and addressing community concerns.”
According to an help at City Hall, Mayor De Blasio ordered the NYPD to cease arresting individuals for smoking marijuana. Instead, the police might be giving out summonses as of this previous weekend. Rather than taking individuals into custody, they’ll order public marijuana shoppers to seem in courtroom. Additionally, “convictions to summons are not listed on a person’s criminal record” per the NY Courts web site.
The District Attorney Will No Longer Prosecute For Small Possession Charges
In an official press launch, District Attorney Cyrus Vance introduced, “Effective August 1st, my Office will decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking instances.”
The District Attorney’s workplace views it as a misallocation of legal justice assets. Additionally, they argue that arresting and prosecuting for marijuana leads to disproportionate policing, which interprets to racially biased arrests. “Such arrests can significantly impact job searches, schooling, family members, immigration status, and community involvement,” in accordance to the press launch.
The workplace places forth that legalization would drastically scale back the variety of marijuana-related arrests. They additionally admit that it wouldn’t finish all racial disparities. This holds true once you take a look at arrest knowledge for Colorado and California post-decriminalization and legalization.
More Changes To Come For The NYPD
De Blasio’s ban on marijuana possession arrests and the District Attorney’s workplace’s choice not to prosecute for the identical offense symbolize a broader transfer in the direction of tolerance. The galvanizing report on racial disparities and Cynthia Nixon’s marketing campaign to legalize weed are shifting present legislators additional left when it comes to marijuana.
Permanent modifications to NYPD insurance policies gained’t be official till the top of the summer time. However, this could possibly be the start of the top for disparities in marijuana policing.