NYPD Spent One Million Hours On 440,000 Cannabis Arrests, A “Huge Waste” Says Report
A joint report by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Research Project released yesterday indicates that the New York Police Department has spent 1 million hours on 440,000 low level cannabis possession arrests between 2002 and 2012.
The report’s findings, released while lawmakers in Albany debate passing a bill reforming the Empire State’s cannabis laws, demonstrate a “huge waste” of monetary resources in a state already cash-strapped.
“We cannot afford to continue arresting tens of thousands of youth every year for low-level marijuana possession,” Alfredo Carrasquillo, a community organizer with VOCAL-NY, said in a press release. “We can’t afford it in terms of the negative effect it has on the future prospects of our youth and we can’t afford in terms of police hours.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has unsuccessfully pushed cannabis reform in past, is again asking lawmakers in Albany to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis. Currently in New York, any amount of cannabis under 25 grams is subject to a $100 fine.
The majority of these arrests are made under the NYPD’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” program, which statistics over the years have proven that the NYPD has deliberately targeted minorities with random searches.
On Tuesday, witnesses in federal lawsuit against the NYPD, testified in court. Nicholas Peart, 24, said he has been unjustly harassed by the NYPD several times, but it 2011, the NYPD crossed the line.
Peart described under oath that one evening while going to pick up milk at a corner bodega- as he was walking home- police approached him, slammed him into the back of a squad car, stole his house keys and entered his building, where his mentally challenged siblings were inside.
Peart panicked, not knowing how is sister would react to a cop entering the apartment.
“I was afraid he would go into my apartment, and I wasn’t there to take care of the situation,” Peart testified, “to be treated like that, by someone who works for New York City, I felt degraded and helpless,”
Peart was eventually released.
David Floyd spearheaded the lawsuit, along with the The Center for Constitutional Rights, legal a non-profit.
Floyd said that he too was harassed several times by the NYPD, but in February 2008, he did not feel safe even in his own apartment building.
While helping a neighbor open his door, the NYPD swarmed around him.
“Before we could go in, we were stopped,” Floyd said.
“It was again the humiliation,” Floyd said. But the last time, “it wasn’t down the block, it wasn’t in another neighborhood. It was on the property that I lived on.”
“I felt that I was being told I shouldn’t leave my home,” Floyd said.
Ironically, it is Stop and Frisk’s focus on race that actually enables drug dealers of all trades. As reported in Cannabis Now Magazine Issue 5, the Mafia in New York significantly benefit from Stop and Frisk.
“The only thing Stop and Frisk does is prevent us from hiring minorities,” one mob insider told Cannabis Now Magazine.*
Cannabis reform is quickly becoming Cuomo’s top 2013 legislative priority as he carefully positions himself for a 2016 presidential run, hoping to win the hearts of the powerful cannabis reform movement currently sweeping the country.
* For the complete story on the Marijuana Mafia- aka the “Ganja Godfather”- and the underground cannabis market in New York City, pick up a copy of Cannabis Now Magazine Issue 6, available now.