According to Washington D.C. police, four out of five people ignore littering laws ergo people are going to completely ignore recently passed marijuana decriminalization laws making possession of an ounce or less punishable by no more than a $25 fine. You can’t blame them for their complete lapse in logic, they are cops after all.
So what are they to do? Write as many tickets for pot in four weeks than they write in six months for littering.
See, the cops say because a littering ticket is just that – a ticket with no jailtime – people routinely ignore paying their fines. Already, they say that they have written 35 tickets for marijuana possession since the law went into effect July 17. They say that so far nobody has paid their ticket or contested it, despite having 14 days to do so under D.C. law. The cops don’t say how many violated that 14 day rule, which could be all or it could be absolutely none considering the decriminalization law has only been in effect 25 days.
Cops are really more upset about their loss of power. For example, now that marijuana possession under an ounce is decriminalized, people don’t have to show police and I.D. It is illegal to provide false information to a police officer, however, and clearly the cops don’t get that. As Delroy Burton, chairman of the D.C. police union claims, someone could say they are the mayor:
“I could stop someone for littering and they could tell me ‘I’m Vincent Gray’ and could give me his home address. Then the mayor could later get a notice,” Burton, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Fraternal Order of Police. “And there is nothing I can do to prove that he’s not Vincent Gray. The law is flawed.”
Apparently D.C. police officers can’t tell the difference between their very public boss and someone claiming to be the mayor.
Instead, police should be more concerned with what is already turning out to be a completely uneven enforcement of the newly-decriminalized laws. Over the last year and a half, D.C. police have written 90 littering citations. In 2012, cops only issued 70 littering tickets in total.
That’s twice the number of marijuana possession citations police have written in just 25 days. Police say that is due in part to the marijuana citation law being enforced citywide, while the littering citation program has only been in place in certain parts of the district.
Either way, now cops are pushing to criminalize things that have been decriminalized. Including littering.
“Without repercussions for an offense, the government’s ability to hold violators accountable for this civil offense is limited and the tickets may not be enough of an incentive to motivate people to change their behavior,” police wrote in an annual littering report according to the Washington Times (which incidentally doesn’t ever mention the extremely high rate of pot tickets). “This is important to recognize because the Council used the same enforcement scheme as the model for the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014.”
That, or they’ll start prosecuting people for not paying fines – and are currently in talks with the city’s Office of Administrative Hearings.