NYC Mayor Announces Marijuana Enforcement 'Overhaul and Reform'

Following the release of disturbing statistics from the New York Police Department, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to “overhaul and reform” city policies regarding marijuana law enforcement. De Blasio set a thirty-day time limit on the rollout of his new policies.

The report from the NYPD is the result of a new bill, passed by unanimous vote in the city council, mandating that the department publish its arrest data online and that it be accessible by the public. The data breaks down the city arrest record by ethnicity, gender, and age – a breakdown that reveals the real inequality of drug arrests.

Though just over 50 percent of the city population identifies as Black or Hispanic, 86 percent of all marijuana arrests in NYC between 2014 and 2016 were of Black or Hispanic individuals. According to the NYPD, these arrest rates reflect the fact that certain neighborhoods report more to the police.

Though City Council members questioned the NYPD's explanation of the disparity, they followed the lead by creating what NYPD Chief Terry Monahan called an “entirely new” form of policing. For the past year, officers have been assigned to patrol a specific neighborhood rather than moving between areas.

De Blasio says the policing change has already resulted in 100,000 fewer arrests compared to stats from four years prior. De Blasio ran on a platform of racial justice in drug reform, and his followthrough has been scrutinized. The Drug Policy Alliance published a report entitled “60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio's New York.

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