'Breakdown of society?' NYPD kills marijuana sting policy

'Breakdown of society?' NYPD kills marijuana sting policy
The New York Police Department ordered its narcotics unit to stop its marijuana “buy-and-bust” policing tool. Residents complained the practice unfairly targets blacks and Latinos, which make up 86 percent of the low-level pot busts so far this year.

The “buy-and-bust,” or “decoy,” practice is considered a crime fighting staple. A plainclothes officer approaches a would-be drug seller asking for a bag of marijuana and, during the arrest, searches for other illegal contraband like guns. Additionally, when the suspect is booked, police have his fingerprints and photo on file, which becomes useful if he is involved in a crime later.

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The head of each police borough’s narcotics unit was summoned to NYPD headquarters last week. At the meeting, Chief of Narcotics Brian McCarthy told the commanders to shift their attention to more potent drugs.

We have to focus on controlled substances,’’ he said, according to the New York Post. “There’s a pill and heroin problem in the city, and we have to focus on that. The powers that be don’t want to see any more of these [pot] arrests … This is all about arresting minorities, and this is just one way to arrest less minorities.”

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The source told the newspaper the de Blasio Administration is under increasing pressure from communities of color to cut down the arrests of minorities.

“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,” Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said to the Post.

It’s counterproductive to the broken-windows theory. If we’re not making marijuana arrests, then we may not pop someone who has a warrant on them or who committed felony crimes,’’ Mullins added. “If the department doesn’t want us to make marijuana arrests, they should introduce legislation to change the law.”

Blacks and Hispanics account for the vast majority of low-level pot busts in 2014, and the rate of minority drug arrests is on pace to potentially exceed the numbers under Mayor Michael Bloomberg – when the police department operated its controversial Stop-and-Frisk policy. That technique led to record numbers of police stops – in the hundreds of thousands – and a federal lawsuit finding the police department unfairly targeted blacks and Latinos in its policing.

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The Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Arrest Research Project showed that the number of pot busts citywide hasn’t changed since de Blasio took office. In fact, it increased for at least the six-month period between March and August.

Blacks and Hispanics account for the vast majority of low-level pot busts in 2014, and the rate of minority drug arrests is on pace to potentially exceed the numbers under Mayor Michael Bloomberg – when the police department operated its controversial Stop-and-Frisk policy. That technique led to record numbers of police stops – in the hundreds of thousands – and a federal lawsuit finding the police department unfairly targeted blacks and Latinos in its policing.

The Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Arrest Research Project showed that the number of pot busts citywide hasn’t changed since de Blasio took office. In fact, it increased for at least the six-month period between March and August.