FAYETTEVILLE — The city’s police have made strides reducing misdemeanor marijuana arrests since more than a year ago but there’s still room for improvement, according to a report released Thursday from a nonprofit advocacy organization.
The city’s police chief says his officers have made marijuana enforcement the lowest priority but have to work within the confines of the law.
The Arkansas Justice Collective released a follow-up to a June 2019 report on marijuana arrests made by the city’s police. Stephen Coger with the collective said the department was responsive to the feedback from the report and residents, but the city isn’t immune to racial disparities in law enforcement. The new report shows there was a significant drop in marijuana arrests and prosecutions after the first report was released, which displays the amount of discretion officers and prosecutors have in handling such offenses, he said.
“The institutional motivation to improve only came after we went public,” Coger said. “We want to see us do even better.”
The report shows arrests and citations for misdemeanor marijuana ranged from about 25 to 40 per month from January to June 2019. From July to December 2019, the numbers ranged from about 5 to 20.
Police Chief Mike Reynolds said since he took over as chief in September 2019 he has made it clear to officers they can issue a warning for marijuana…