De Blasio Demands Change In NYC
The NYPD has been under fire for quite sometime now, and Mayor Bill De Blasio sure is feeling the pressure to make changes when it comes to policing. One thing specifically that the mayor does plan to change is the racial discrimination when it comes to marijuana arrests.
The New York District Attorney's Office released a report entitled, “Marijuana, Fairness and Public Safety” which stated that there are persistent racial disparities in marijuana arrests in New York City. For example, 86 percent of the 16,925 people arrested for marijuana possession were minorities. Further more, of that 86 percent, 38 percent were Hispanic and 48 percent were African-American.
Back in February, the City Council gathered to discuss these disparities and listened to the NYPD's perspective. Councilman Donovan Richards stated, "The racial disparities have not changed one bit, and arrests are still too common in communities of color.” Police officers claimed to have received an increase in complaints in certain neighborhoods over others. Richards' responds: “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.”
However, the report refuted the NYPD's excuse by quantifying 311 calls. “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.”
De Blasio announced last week that he will be making changes within the next thirty days, which he considers the "overhaul and reform" of NYPD's marijuana policing. Days after his announcement, the work has begun. Phil Walzak, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, told 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.”
A city hall aide claims that De Blasio has ordered police officers to stop arresting people for smoking marijuana and instead give summonses. Attorney Cyrus Vance announced in an official press release, “Effective August 1st, my Office will decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases.”
While the office does admit that legalizing cannabis would greatly decrease the amount of marijuana arrests, they are aware that it will not end all racial disparities. Permanent changes to the NYPD policing will not be made official until the end of summer 2018.