NYC Pot Arrests Highest In Decade; Impact Of Policy Change Not Clear


Last year, New York City police officers made the greatest number of marijuana arrests in more than a decade, reports WNYC Radio. About 50,700 people were arrested for low-level marijuana possession in 2011. Last year, the department ordered officers not to make arrests for marijuana possession if the pot was never in public view.

Defense lawyers and law enforcement experts don’t think the order has done much to change what they believe to be unlawful police behavior on the streets. It's too early to tell if Kelly's order has had an impact, observers say, because there have been historical dips and surges in the number of arrests. Harry Levine, a professor at Queens College, said marijuana arrests have nearly doubled since 2005. The number of arrests made in the last half of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure has exceeded the total number of marijuana arrests made under Mayors Rudy Giuliani, David Dinkins, and Edward Koch combined. “Twenty-four years of marijuana arrests under three different mayors and a number of different police chiefs are still lower than just five years of what Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly have accomplished,” Levine said.

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