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by Peter Moskos

February 1, 2012

Low-Level Marijuana Arrests Rise for Seventh Straight Year

Andy Newman of the Times reports:
Low-level arrests for marijuana possession in New York City increased for the seventh straight year in 2011, according to a study released Wednesday — despite a September memorandum from the police commissioner that reminded officers to follow the letter of the law and not arrest people with marijuana unless they have the drugs in plain view.

Though arrests dropped significantly after Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly’s memorandum, an increase of 6 percent during the first eight months of the year more than offset the decline, according to the analysis, conducted by [Queens College sociology professor Harry Levine].
I was wrong.

Update: A WNYC report by (award winning) Ailsa Chang


Anonymous said...

What does your crystal ball say this year?

PCM said...

It says, "down." But I don't trust my crystal ball anymore.

Maybe I should break out the Magic Eight Ball instead. That ol' boy was never wrong... The problem is, it says, "maybe."

Anonymous said...


For a prospective candidate would you say it's worth picking, say, Baltimore PD over New York PD (or the opposite), in terms or internal working conditions? It seems that Bealfeld vs Kelly there's effort on the former to change policing tactics over the latter. Or is it that a larger organization versus a smaller organization is just that much harder to turn around?

-Curious Criminal Justice Student

PCM said...

Fair question. Honestly, I don't know the answer. I haven't been inside the BPD in over a decade. What I hear isn't good. But then what you hear about police departments is never good. My gut says that things are bit better in the NYPD.

As to change, I think the NYPD changed a long time before the BPD. So in the sense Baltimore played catch-up. I do think strategically the NYPD is currently in a bit of a holding pattern, but there's nothing wrong with that, when crime is at historic lows.

It may actually be easier to change a large department (it also may not) because you can find more people who are on the same page. good question.

Anonymous said...

By not good and ctahcing up to NYPD is that in reference to "hard" quotas with repercussions or more 'traditional' corruption? I know BPD just replaced their Internal Affairs head honcho. I'm working on a paper about "moral corruption" (drugs, protection) versus systemic "non-moral corruption" (citations, non-PC arrests, publicity white lies and false documention), and found your first book very helpful for it's sources. But now I'm also curious what possible internal changes can help shape a PD's policies and how.

PCM said...

No. I wasn't thinking of internal stuff. I meant in terms of actual tactics, having police do something other than patrol in cars and respond to 911 and 311 calls to service.

While the NYPD was working at reducing violence, the BPD was just locking up drug addicts and low-level dealers.

I hope the BPD does *not* go New York's way in internalizing quota pressure. That's not good policing.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with all of those statements. I'm leaning towards making my position that history repeats itself and that Departments must constantly evolve. For instance in that NY's "holding pattern" is similar to pre-CompStat days when one generation tried very hard to prevent it's implementation but it turned was a useful tool.

Now with crime down, a new tool should be implemented that corrects CompStats failings as well as initiates a true "community policing" technique (ie: foot patrol/ intelligence gathering / quality over quantity).

And, love your blog.

Richard P. said...

I actually set a google alarm to check if this post was going to be right. Sadly you wrote a Feb. 1 post in 2012 and not a March 29th post.

Alas, more arrests. Not good.