In the first four months of 2014, the NYPD under Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton arrested an average of 80 people a day for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
This is virtually the same as the NYPD’s average of 78 marijuana possession arrests a day in all of 2013 under Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly.
The most recent data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) shows that marijuana arrest patterns in the first four months of 2014 under de Blasio and Bratton are indistinguishable from those of their predecessors in 2013.
See graphs and this release online at:
In 2013 blacks and Latinos were 87% of the people arrested for marijuana possession.
In the first four months of 2014, blacks and Latinos were 86% of the people arrested.
In 2013 teenagers between 16 and 20 were 29% of the people arrested.
So far in 2014 teens are also 29% of arrestees.
In 2013 young people between ages 21 and 25 were 27% of those arrested for marijuana possession, exactly the same as in the first third of 2014.
In 2013 people between the ages of 26 and 29 were 12% of those arrested.
In the first four months of 2014 they were 13% of those arrested.
In 2013, young people between the ages of 16 and 34 comprised 78% of all people arrested for simple marijuana possession.
In 2014 so far, they are 79% of those arrested.
In 2013, 72% of those arrested for marijuana possession had no prior convictions of any kind, not even for a single misdemeanor. In 2014, the comparable figure is 73%.
In short, the NYPD is primarily arresting ordinary high school students, college students and young workers, most of whom are blacks and Latinos. Yet young people of color use marijuana less than young whites, as U.S. government studies have long shown. At the current pace, New York City’s number of marijuana possession arrests in 2014 will match the number made in 2013.
Although Commissioner Bratton has stated that marijuana arrests have dropped under his command, the numbers provided by the NYS DCJS do not support that claim.
In fact, in March and April of 2014 the number of people arrested for simple marijuana possession was higher than in March and April of 2013:
In March 2013, the NYPD made 2,438 arrests, an average of 79 marijuana arrests a day.
In March 2014, the NYPD made 2,657 arrests, an average of 86 marijuana arrests a day.
In April 2013, the NYPD made 2,578 arrests, an average of 86 marijuana arrests a day.
In April 2014, the NYPD made 2,619 arrests, an average of 87 marijuana arrests a day.
In the first four months of 2014 the NYPD’s marijuana possession arrests were still primarily concentrated in neighborhoods where most residents are blacks and Latinos, and not in neighborhoods where most residents are whites and all others.
For example, in Manhattan police made a total of 8 possession arrests in the Upper East Side (Pct. 19) and 8 in the Upper West Side (Pct. 20). But in East New York in Brooklyn (Pct. 75), police made 500 possession arrests, and in Morris Heights in the Bronx (Pct. 44), police made 392 such arrests. The NYPD also made 371 lowest-level marijuana arrests in Washington Heights (Pct. 33) which is more marijuana possession arrests than in 20 other precincts throughout the city combined. Thus far in 2014, the policing of marijuana possession remains concentrated in just one of what Mayor de Blasio has called “the two New Yorks.”
There is also still no evidence that 80 arrests a day for possession of small amounts of marijuana makes New York safer. Indeed, as Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries has pointed out, the arrests take police officers off the streets and away from other crime fighting work. Further, as candidate de Blasio said during his mayoral campaign:
“Low-level marijuana possession arrests have disastrous consequences for individuals and their families. These arrests limit one’s ability to qualify for student financial aid and undermine one’s ability to find stable housing and good jobs. What’s more, recent studies demonstrate clear racial bias in arrests for low-level possession… This policy is unjust and wrong.”
Loren Siegel and Harry Levine, Marijuana Arrest Research Project / http://marijuana-arrests.com/
This Data Update Report and accompanying charts is on the web at:
Our previous Data Report showing the marijuana arrests in the first three months of 2014 is here: