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Nonprofit group releases follow-up to report on Fayetteville marijuana arrests

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FAYETTEVILLE — The town’s police have made strides lowering misdemeanor marijuana arrests since greater than a yr in the past however there’s nonetheless room for enchancment, in keeping with a report launched Thursday from a nonprofit advocacy group.

The town’s police chief says his officers have made marijuana enforcement the bottom precedence however must work throughout the confines of the regulation.

The Arkansas Justice Collective launched a follow-up to a June 2019 report on marijuana arrests made by town’s police. Stephen Coger with the collective stated the division was attentive to the suggestions from the report and residents, however the metropolis is not proof against racial disparities in regulation enforcement. The brand new report exhibits there was a major drop in marijuana arrests and prosecutions after the primary report was launched, which shows the quantity of discretion officers and prosecutors have in dealing with such offenses, he stated.

“The institutional motivation to enhance solely got here after we went public,” Coger stated. “We wish to see us do even higher.”

The report exhibits arrests and citations for misdemeanor marijuana ranged from about 25 to 40 per thirty days from January to June 2019. From July to December 2019, the numbers ranged from about 5 to twenty.

Police Chief Mike Reynolds stated since he took over as chief in September 2019 he has made it clear to officers they’ll difficulty a warning for marijuana possession solely and seize the proof for destruction. The coverage stems from a 2008 metropolis ordinance instructing officers to make marijuana possession enforcement a low precedence.

Officers have been made extra conscious of the ordinance after the report was launched in June 2019, Reynolds stated.

“For us to place that as a required learn for all of our officers transferring ahead I believe was very useful,” Reynolds stated. “A number of them actually did not work right here when that ordinance was handed.”

From the beginning of this yr by way of Nov. 5, town’s police arrested one particular person for misdemeanor marijuana possession solely and gave 15 citations. By way of the identical time interval final yr, there have been 16 arrests and 89 citations. The variety of arrests dropped 94% yr to yr, and citations dropped 83%, in keeping with knowledge posted to town’s web site.

Arrests or citations for misdemeanor marijuana possession solely quantity to a fraction of a proportion of what the division does, Police Chief Mike Reynolds stated.

“I do not know the way I could make that any extra of a lowest degree regulation enforcement precedence for us in a single yr,” stated. “I believe that speaks volumes.”

The report exhibits a demographic breakdown of arrests and citations for misdemeanor marijuana solely offenses from Jan. 1, 2019 to June 30 this yr. Sixty-one % have been of white folks, 32% have been of Black folks and 6% have been Latinx. The report would not present the overall variety of arrests and citations for the time interval, though uncooked knowledge is offered on the collective’s web site.

The town’s inhabitants as of July 2019 was 87,590, in keeping with the U.S. Census Bureau. About 76% % of residents have been white, 9% have been Hispanic, 7% have been Black, 4% have been two or extra races, 3% have been Asian, 1% have been Native American and a fraction have been Pacific Islander.

The report says town did not comply with 4 suggestions made within the 2019 report: finish all misdemeanor marijuana arrests, type an advisory committee on truthful policing, finish town’s participation within the 4th Judicial District Drug Job Power and drop costs for anybody merely possessing marijuana.

Reynolds stated officers can use discretion however can’t run afoul of the regulation relating to marijuana. He stated the division has 4 advisory panels within the Metropolis Council, Civil Service Fee, the African-American Advisory Council and a chief’s advisory council.

An hours-long assembly in August was held by which the council supported participation within the drug process drive with a dedication from Reynolds to have a look at methods to higher this system.

The brand new report makes extra suggestions, together with repealing funding for a brand new police headquarters voters accredited final yr, hiring and coaching unarmed neighborhood caretakers, guaranteeing sure neighborhoods aren’t inequitably policed, eradicating police from faculties, having police not goal folks on probation or parole and having town prosecutor implement various sentencing equivalent to neighborhood work.

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Siera Delk (from left), The Rev. Clint Schnekloth, Walt Kelly, Blake Worthey and Patricia Rodriguez converse Thursday throughout a press convention exterior the Fayetteville metropolis administration constructing. The Arkansas Justice Collective, a nonprofit advocacy group, launched a report final yr detailing misdemeanor marijuana arrests made by town’s police and launched a follow-up report Thursday. Go to nwaonline.com/201120Daily/ for at the moment’s picture gallery.

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The Rev. Clint Schnekloth of Fayetteville, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, speaks Thursday throughout a press convention exterior the Fayetteville metropolis administration constructing. The Arkansas Justice Collective, a nonprofit advocacy group, launched a report final yr detailing misdemeanor marijuana arrests made by town’s police and launched a follow-up report Thursday.Go to nwaonline.com/201120Daily/ for at the moment’s picture gallery.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

Extra Information

Internet watch

To learn the report from the Arkansas Justice Collective, go to:

http://arjustice.org/fayetteville

To see weekly summaries of Fayetteville police exercise, go to:

http://faypolicesummaries

Stacy Ryburn might be reached by e mail at [email protected] or on Twitter @stacyryburn.

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