NYPD Tells Brooklyn Officers To Continue Making Low-Level Drug Arrests DA Has Stated He Won't Prosecute
from the work-harder,-not-smarter dept
The NYPD is telling its officers to keep making the lower-level marijuana busts that they had been, despite a recent memo from Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson that his office would no longer prosecute such cases…Yes, no one tells the NYPD what to do, not even the District Attorney. The NYPD's memo -- one that plainly states it will arrest people who will never be prosecuted -- is required reading for Brooklyn precincts for the next 10 days, just to ensure those police officers understand their workday will contain a certain amount of deliberate futility.
On one hand, the memo does contain a good point -- law enforcement should be consistent across all of New York's boroughs. On the other hand, it plainly states that the NYPD is more interested in generating paperwork and empty arrest statistics than approaching the DA's announcement in a more reasonable fashion.
Here's what DA Thompson was hoping to accomplish with his decision to not pursue low-level drug offenders.
The move was intended to "make better use of limited law enforcement resources and to prevent offenders – who are disproportionately young men of color – from being saddled with a criminal record for a minor, non-violent offense," according to a statement.This could have been seen as an indication of where the department should head -- towards a more reasonable stance on drug enforcement. Instead, it's been viewed as "inconsistency" and responded to with all the obstinance the department is famous for.
DA Thompson's order really doesn't eliminate that many possession arrests. His memo stated that those smoking in public (especially around children), 16-17-year-old offenders (who will be placed into a diversion program) and people with existing criminal records will still be prosecuted. This just leaves mainly the truly harmless: recreational users.
But the War on Drugs is every bit as essential to the NYPD as the War on Terror, and the NYPD (with new chief Bill Bratton's blessing) will continue to make meaningless arrests -- arrests made even more meaningless by DA Thompson's announcement.
If nothing else, this ensures the sort of job security that's usually only touted in sarcastic tones by the deeply cynical. According to the New York Times, arresting recreational users is full-time work for Brooklyn cops.
Over the past 15 years, marijuana arrests in New York have soared, partly because a rising number of stop-and-frisk encounters led to searches of people’s pockets.That decrease in marijuana arrests is directly related to the decline in stop-and-frisk encounters after a court decision and a new city law curbed this controversial program. It's quite obviously not (the NYPD's directive confirms it) the result of the NYPD shifting its focus to more serious criminal activity.
There were 8,150 cases in Brooklyn in which the top count was a minor marijuana possession charge in the year ending June 30, according to the memo on Tuesday. Marijuana arrests have decreased during the first six months of this year, compared with the same period in 2013.
There's hardly anything more ridiculous than deploying law enforcement officers -- with all their expertise and training -- to bust users of a drug that has been legalized in two states for recreational use and in a host of other states for medical use. There's nothing more ridiculous than sending officers out to bust recreational users and serve them up to a DA who's just going to let them go -- and one that specifically told the department he would not prosecute.