Mayor to top cop: End disparities in pot possession enforcement

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Sneed exclusive: Punishment by pot?

Sneed has learned that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is ordering top cop Garry McCarthy to explain why misdemeanor marijuana possession means one thing on the North Side — and a very different thing on the South and West Sides.

◆ Translation: Rahm, who is running for re-election, wants to know why police are choosing to arrest rather than ticket misdemeanor marijuana violators in African-American communities.

In a recent Sun-Times poll, only 8 percent of African-American voters surveyed said they would vote for Emanuel. 

◆ Buckshot: Unhappy with the statistics, the mayor is giving McCarthy 30 days to ensure the law is applied evenly across the city.

◆ Backshot: Since the city ordinance was enacted almost two years ago — allowing officers to ticket or make an arrest — recent reports show officers have chosen to make an arrest 9 out of 10 times.

RELATED: Disparities in pot arrests reveal two Chicagos

All but one of the communities in the top 20 percent of marijuana arrests are primarily African-American.

“Mayor Emanuel has called for a full review of the ordinance and how it is being implemented to see if there are ways to further bring down the arrest rate, particularly in areas that have seen a disproportionately high arrest rate,” said Sarah Hamilton, Emanuel’s director of communications.

Police made 5,000 fewer marijuana arrests in 2013, after the ordinance passed, than in 2011, according to police statistics.

“Every arrest results in cops off the street processing a low-level drug offense, rather than on the beat fighting serious crime.”


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