Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy both support an ordinance that would allow police officers to ticket anyone caught with a small amount of marijuana instead of going through the time-consuming arrest process that takes them off the street for hours at a time. Police arrested more than 18,000 people last year for misdemeanor possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana, which “tied up more than 45,000 police hours,” McCarthy said in a statement. “The new ordinance nearly cuts that time in half… freeing up cops to address more serious crime.”
More significantly, the alderman who drafted the ordinance – which turns small amounts of pot into a ticketable, not jailable offense_ said it not only addresses concerns about fairness but also provides increased safety for city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Alderman Danny Solis said most of those arrested are black and Hispanic and come from predominantly minority neighborhoods – the ones in the thick of the violence. “The irony is that the worst crime is happening in our city is happening in the same neighborhoods where the possession (arrests) are happening,” said Solis. “The police officer is now going to be more in the neighborhoods that need him or her than in the district doing paperwork.”
When the ordinance was first introduced in November sponsors pointed to statistics that suggest that the arrests themselves are a colossal waste of time. Of the 8,625 misdemeanor marijuana cases between 2006 and 2010, about 87 percent were dismissed, according to statistics from the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court.
Emanuel had made it clear in November that he was open to the idea of the ordinance, even saying a member of the police department’s gang unit had made the same suggestion. He then directed McCarthy to study it, with McCarthy also signaling that he would consider it because it would free up officers. With that work done the full City Council is expected to vote and pass the ordinance later this month, with it becoming the law sometime this summer. Under the ordinance, anyone in possession of 15 grams of marijuana – roughly the equivalent of 15 marijuana cigarettes – faces a fine between $100 and $500.
There’s more on this at the Huffington Post.
[image: Google images Rahm Emanuel]
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