New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has told the city’s top police officials to stop arresting people for smoking cannabis and, instead, issue citations, CNN reports. The directive comes about a week after the New York Times published an investigative report which found that black people were arrested for low-level cannabis charges at eight times the rate of their white counterparts over the last three years; while Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people.
The investigation also found that police made more arrests in black neighborhoods when people called them for cannabis-smoking complaints than in white neighborhoods. The report has forced the New York City Police Department to convene a working group to evaluate its cannabis enforcement policies and procedures. The working group is expected to present its finding and recommendations to the mayor within 30 days.
“The 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.” – NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Phil Walzak, to CNN
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced his office will stop prosecuting cannabis possession and smoking cases on Aug, 1.
“The dual mission of the Manhattan DA’s office is a safer New York and a more equal justice system. The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals.” – Vance, during a press conference, via CNN
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has said that his office threw out twice the number of cannabis-smoking cases over the last three months and plans to stop prosecuting even more of them.
Individuals who are given a summons in New York are neither arrested nor fingerprinted unless they fail to show identification.