About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

November 7, 2014

Quote of the Day

As more and more states legalize marijuana, New York City still leads the world for arrests for possession of the evil weed. You might wonder who actually thinks it's a good idea to arrest people for a decriminalized amount of marijuana. Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins: "If the current practice of making arrests for both possession and sale of marijuana is, in fact, abandoned, then this is clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society."

Dude, get some perspective. Mullins continued, "If we’re not making marijuana arrests, then we may not pop someone who has a warrant on them or who committed felony crimes.... If the department doesn’t want us to make marijuana arrests, they should introduce legislation to change the law." Seems fair enough, but there are a few problems here. First, you can run somebody and see if their wanted. If not, you don't need to arrest them misdemeanor marijuana.

Second, small scale possession of marijuana is just a violation (not an arrestable offense) until the marijuana is in "public view." And I don't want to imply anything, but how the marijuana gets into public view is open to debate. But I think it's safe to say most of the tens of thousands of people arrested aren't walking around holding dime bags in their hands.

Finally, and this is important to policing, back in the old days, hell, even the days I policed, real police would be ashamed to come in with such a crappy arrest. Off the street for hours for what?! If you come across weed, you can throw it in a sewer. Or hell, you could even hand it back. (It's happened.) There are lots of minor violations that do not deserve zero-tolerance. In the absence of other crimes, in the absence of a person being wanted a warrant, you can warn, you can admonish, or you could even turn a blind eye. Police have a lot of discretion. Use it. If anything will lead to the "breakdown of civilized society," it won't be police officers doing their job and using their brain.


Jay Livingston said...

It figures that the end of civilization as we know it would start in New England and the West Coast (plus Colorado) and generally places with a better educated populace. Mother Jones has some useful maps and other info.

Andrew C. Bairnsfather said...

I wrote about "Moral Decay" not too long ago.

I wish I recalled the piece a teacher read to me in college or high school. It sounded almost exactly like much of the fear mongering we hear today, or what I've heard about in the early 1900's, except it was written hundreds of years BC.

I think history is pretty clear that those who go on a crusade/jihad/inquisition/cleansing of "moral decay" are the ones who cause the worst harms to society.

Dave- IL said...

Ha ha ha ha ha...ha ha ha...whew, that was a good one Mullins. Wait, were you serious? WTF man, are you the reincarnation of Harry Anslinger? Or maybe you are just hoping that people are still ignorant enough to believe this pants-pissing hysteria.

By the way, I think he really meant that legalization would lead to the breakdown of easy stats and much court OT for police. What a pathetic little man. So consumed by his desire for job security and lust for authority that he can't begin to understand the damage prohibition has done to our society.

And this from the enlightened, progressive City of New York!