Study Finds a Third of Bronx Pot Busts Are Bogus

Last month I noted that cops in New York City continue to illegally arrest people for the "public display" of marijuana in circumstances that do not justify the charge, despite a September directive in which Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told them to cut it out. Based on interviews with public defenders, Queens College sociologist Harry Levine has reported that police commonly transform marijuana possession, a citable offense, into public display, a misdemeanor, by removing pot during stop-and-frisk searches or instructing people to take out any contraband they're carrying. A new survey of 518 cases by the Bronx Public Defenders provides the first hard data on how common these bogus busts are. The organization, which represents defendants who can't afford lawyers, reviewed every case in the Bronx where someone received a desk appearance ticket for public dislay during a six-month period, the last five weeks of which came after Kelly's directive. The percentage of cases where marijuana was brought into public view only as a result of an officer's actions or instructions—cases Kelly himself says are illegitimate—actually rose after he reminded his officers to follow the law, from 33 percent to 44 percent. The overall percentage was 36 percent, most of which (79 percent) involved "an intrusive physical search by the police officer." 

"This is clearly an illegal practice," Scott Levy, a Bronx Defenders attorney, told The Raw Story. "And the fact that it hasn't stopped since Commissioner Kelly issued his memo suggests there is a deep disconnect between what happens on the street and what the top brass in the NYPD are saying happens." Possibly because the top brass does not really care. Kelly, after all, has presided over a dramatic increase in marijuana arrests, which are largely a product of the stop-and-frisk program he enthusiastically defends. Yet somehow he did not realize his officers were manufacturing misdemeanors until critics like Levine pointed it out. And now that he has officially reminded New York's Finest that the state legislature decriminalized marijuana possession way back in 1977, the fact that cops continue to flout the law does not seem to bother him much. Last month, when he was asked about the pot bust numbers for 2011, which despite his directive were higher than the previous year's, Kelly pleaded ignorance:

The numbers are what they are, based on situations officers encountered in the street...If you have it in plain sight, then it is a misdemeanor. If you're directed by an officer to take it out of your pocket, that's not the intent of the law. That's what the directive was meant to address. Very difficult to quantify whether or not that was happening.

Now that the Bronx Defenders have quantified it (for one borough, at least), will Kelly do anything about it?

A summary of the study is here.

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  • Freewheelin' Franklin||

    transform marijuana possession, a citable offense, into public display, a misdemeanor

    Let me get this, um, straight.

    How is possession ascertained without "public display"?

    Suppose I yell "Hey, I'm holding!" but no one sees anything. Is that an infraction of any sort?

  • NYPD||

    Fuck you, that's why, hippie.

  • Federal Dog||

    "How is possession ascertained without "public display"?"

    Legislative intent was that cops may not shake people down if they are merely carrying -- and not displaying -- pot. If the cops can't see it, they have no PC to do anything further.

  • Freewheelin' Franklin||

    Legislative intent was that cops may not shake people down if they are merely carrying

    Cool! From here on out I'll always carry, so I'll never get shaken down again!

  • Zeb||

    They probably pull some sort of "just show us what you have and you won't get in trouble" shit and then arrest them when they do what they are told. Never trust a cop unless you absolutely have to. They are allowed to lie.

  • ||

    I'm curious how much it has to do with data collection. If you're just handed a ticket, your not processed so no finger printing, DNA swab, ect.

  • WTF||

    How have we missed National Cleavage Day all day?

  • Pip||

    I didn't.

  • ||

    most of us aren't jewel cutters.

  • Germans||

    "Based on interviews with public defenders, Queens College sociologist Harry Levine has reported that police commonly transform marijuana possession, a citable offense, into public display, a misdemeanor, by removing pot during stop-and-frisk searches or instructing people to take out any contraband they're carrying."

    Just make public display a citable offense too. Problem solved.

  • Pip||

    #@$@$#@$# joke handles.

  • WTF||

    It kind of works, though, given the subject matter.

  • ||

    Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There's nothing you can't do now you're in New Yawk.

    "Professionalism, courtesy, and respect,", eh?

  • ||

    "Professionalism, courtesy, and respect,"

    That's what they expect of the citizenry.

  • ||

    Shouldn't stop-and-frisk be like, unconstitutional or something? Isn't the cop asking you to produce any contriband you might have on you a form of self-incrimination?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Maybe, but 85% of the time its used on darkies and PRs. How often do they read the Constitution?

  • Major Johnson||

    About 3/5 of the time.

  • ||

    +1808

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    Are you serious? Are you serious?

  • jasno||

    Why keep bitching about bad police tactics when you should be talking about the laws that empower them?

    Legislators and voters are slightly more reasonable than Brooklyn cops.

  • ||

    Usually I agree. In this case, the legislators didn't empower them. Legislators tried to curb them by passing the reform act.

  • Michael Caine||

    Meh, they were probably black and had gold grills, which means they are guilty of something.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Like the law means anything to the NYPD. Last year they cost the city $35 million dollars because they continued to strip search non violent pre trial detainees at Rikers' Island, even though such practices have been declared illegal by courts since the 1970s. I bet they are still doing it today. Why should they have to abide by the law? If anyone complains, the tax payers will just pay the tab.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/l.....s1fozUXhFJ

  • ||

    The Union still hasn't approved the change. Until they do, Union screws do it the Union way.

  • ||

    ""Why should they have to abide by the law? If anyone complains, the tax payers will just pay the tab.""

    Exactly.

  • ||

    ""Why should they have to abide by the law? If anyone complains, the tax payers will just pay the tab.""

    Exactly.

  • Almanian||

    CAPTION: "All I want for Christmas is my two front tee[whistle], my two front tee[whistle], me two front tee[whistle]...."

  • Loki||

    Chief Kelly: Remember officers, finding marijuana as a result of stop and frisk searches or asking people to remove any contraband does not count as "public display". Now if you'll excuse me, I'm just going to turn my back for a few minutes...

  • Loki||

    Completely OT: http://now.msn.com/now-plus/03.....L-sex.aspx

    Where is that kid so I can shake his hand.

  • ||

    Nice.

  • BakedPenguin||

    It'll probably be pretty easy for the DA to get the kid to testify - "yeah, I totally banged her!"

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Best thing that ever happened to the kid in his life. And he has to lie to the cops to protect the women who did him the favor every teenage boy hopes and prays will some day be granted.

    Thanks cops.

  • Binky||

    At least Jones already knows a few lawyers.

    At least in the Biblical sense.

  • ||

    Dude looks like Robin Williams' retarded uncle.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    It is a still from Williams' screen test to play the Dustin Hoffman role in Rainman.

  • ||

    Nailed it!

  • Charlotte Corday||

    The alt text should have been

    I am a very good driver

  • shrike||

    Better dead than Red

  • ||

    Man that dude just looks corrupt as the day is long lol.

    www.Anon-Nets.tk

  • ||

    A whole bunch of Bronx cops (23?) got jammed up in a widespread ticket fixing scandal, that I believe involved the cops' union. This may be a little pushback against police brass.

  • dogs68||

    its just crazy they can keep getting away with this stuff. check out www.whosarat.com

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