The Dallas City Council and local Police Chief are pondering the cultivation of a much-needed pilot program – similar to the cite and release program scheduled to roll out in the Houston area on January 1, 2016 – Dallas police would instead issue citations to individuals busted with a small amount of cannabis.
Currently in the soaked and saturated state of Texas, getting caught in possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $2000. Despite these overtly severe penalties, Police Chief David Brown claims to be conflicted over the idea of giving his police force the green light to write tickets in lieu of throwing people in jail, simply for getting caught with their personal stash.
Conflicted but not dumb, Chief Brown said Tuesday, the new program is “just so damn practical.”
Firing up the topic for debate at the Tuesday night meeting of the Dallas City Council’s Public Safety Committee, police officials and council members deliberated the virtues of a “cite and release” pilot program.
Fortunately for those recreational pot smokers residing in the Dallas area, the city council’s committee voted in favor of referring the cite and release program to the full council – minus any type of recommendation.
Texas passed a law in 2007 that allows the various police departments located around the state to issue marijuana citations, rather than incarcerating someone for the simple possession of minor amounts of marijuana. Keeping its citizens productive and free, this new policy would provide more jail space for real offenders and would allow the police to spend more time patrolling the streets.
Spurred on by its depleted staff, the cite and release topic was sparked by a police presentation regarding struggles with 911 call response times; Chief Brown noted his police force is under-staffed and its officers overworked.
Hoping to refocus the police on higher priority crimes, Council member Philip Kingston said utilizing a cite and release program is a “no brainer.” One that could help improve 911 response times.
Comparing marijuana possession to jaywalking, Kingston noted he’d legalize marijuana in a heartbeat…if it were up to him.
Per the proposed pilot program, those individuals caught with marijuana would be given a summons to appear in court on a specific date. Provided they fail to appear before the judge on the designated date, a court ordered arrest warrant would then be issued.