As Stop and Frisk Trial Continues, New Report Details Impact of Marijuana Arrests

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Bogus is the word the New York Police Department used in response to the numerous studies and reports that Queens College sociologist Harry Levine has made.

His recent report, “One Million Police Hours: Making 440,000 Marijuana Possession Arrests in New York City, 2002-2012,”  details how much time and energy is invested by the NYPD on marijuana arrests. These numbers include the costs of the controversial stop and frisk policy.

The report, which indicates that more than one million police hours have been invested into marijuana arrests, comes as Floyd v. City of New York examines the legality of stop and frisk.

This is “the equivalent of having 31 police officers working eight hours a day for 11 years, making only marijuana possession arrests,” according to the report.

The structure of the NYPD and the way the city handles information and policy leads to these arrests, Levine said. “They have the power to keep doing what they want to do.”

A misdemeanor arrest for marijuana possession in New York City will take up two or three hours for one officer to four or five hours or even longer for multiple officers.

The average time one officer spends making an arrest is two and a half hours, which is a “very conservative estimate,” according to the report.

Collectively, those arrested from 2002 to 2012 for marijuana possession spent over five million hours in custody. This is also affected by the stop and frisk policy that the NYPD has, which — under Mayor Bloomberg — has increased more than 600 percent according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Stop and frisk is a policy where NYPD officers stop anyone under suspicion of committing a crime or has already committed a crime, asks them a few questions, and pats them down if they still seem uncooperative.

“It’s a major, major deal what’s going on down there,” Levine said.

One person who testified, State Sen. Eric Adams (D-NY), stated that NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly admitted that the stop and frisk tactic is used to “instill fear” in young men of color.

Moreover, Officer Pedro Serrano, an NYPD officer and whistleblower, recorded a conversation that was showed in court that had Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack of Serrano’s precinct stating that officers should arrest “male blacks 14 to 21” to fill a quota.

“They have secrets; they have things they don’t want the public eye to see,” Levine said.

There has been no official response by either the city or by the NYPD that specifically addresses the work of Levine and his colleagues.

“No one seriously believes that marijuana arrests lower crime,” Levine said.

The report states that the arrests are not a sensible use of city resources.

“The future is up for grabs. Marijuana arrests are going to end one way or another,” Levine said. “Stop and frisks are going to stop as well, but we don’t know how long that’ll take.”

Brandon Jordan

Brandon is a senior majoring in Political Science and Economics with a minor in Business And Liberal Arts. He covers labor and activism at CUNY. He also likes to cook, bake, run and make puns, sometimes not in that order. You can follow him on Twitter @BrandonJ_R and email him at brandon[at]

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