Law Enforcement or Reaching Quotas? Stats Show NYPD Focusing on Pot Possession, Boozing in Public

Pot possession and boozing in public are the top reasons New Yorkers get arrested or ticketed by the cops, new statistics show.

And although marijuana arrests has been the top category for three years running, the number of busts spiked 15% between 2008 and 2009, the Daily News has learned.

The NYPD says the data – including more than 21,000 summonses for riding bicycles on the sidewalk – reflects its emphasis on quality-of-life violations to prevent more serious crime.

“It’s often about complaints being generated by the public and us responding to them,” said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. “Other times, it’s just us enforcing violations when we see them.”

Critics say the high numbers for weed, beer and other offenses like riding bikes on sidewalks smacks of quotas – or harassment in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

“We’ve interviewed many young people arrested for marijuana possession and found that these arrests are overwhelmingly a by-product of people being stopped and frisked,” said Harry Levine, a Queens College sociologist.

“Plainclothes officers will pull up, say ‘Get your hands against the wall,’ then go through the person’s pockets and, if they find some pot, make an arrest.”

Last year, there were 46,491 cases in which fifth-degree marijuana possession was the top arrest charge, according to the Division of Criminal Justice Services. That’s up from 40,387 in 2008.

The top spot for those arrests was the 75th Precinct, which had 3,036 last year. It covers Brownsville, the epicenter of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk strategy.

“The police are taking this too far,” said Brownsville resident Natalie Robinson, 29. “Everyone knows that poor blacks and Latinos are going to be affected by the police in the worst way.”

While marijuana topped the arrest list, violating the open-container law was the No. 1 summons last year – 132,225 were issued, almost a fourth of all NYPD tickets.

That was followed by disorderly conduct, motor vehicle violations and riding bikes on the sidewalk, according to figures from the Office of Court Administration.

There were 21,136 tickets in the bike-riding category, comparable to the number of arrests for theft of service, which includes fare-beating.

– Article from NY Daily News.


1 Comment

  1. Anonymous on

    Now the police don’t need probable cause to stop you and frisk you? How is it not possible to beat that in court? Certainly would seem to be fruit from the poisonous tree to me. Wouldn’t have found anything without the search and no probable cause or consent for search should mean no search.