law enforcement

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Washington: Seattle's New Approach To Drug Offenses Produces Nearly 60% Reduction In Recidivism

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LEAD Establishes Unique Collaboration Among Law Enforcement, Human Service Agencies, Business Leaders, and Community Members

Interest in LEAD Grows Among Major Cities Across the Nation, Including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, and Albany

According to a new, independent study by a University of Washington evaluation team, one of the nation’s most innovative and promising approaches to ending the War On Drugs and mass incarceration has been shown to produce a dramatic drop in recidivism.

In 2011, Seattle launched "Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion" (LEAD), a bold new harm reduction-oriented approach to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes and break the cycle of addiction, joblessness and homelessness. Under LEAD, police officers exercise discretion to divert individuals for certain criminal offenses (including low-level drug sales) to a case manager and a comprehensive network of services, instead of booking them to jail and initiating the standard criminal justice process.

LEAD established a unique collaboration between multiple stakeholders who all work together to find new ways to solve old problems. Stakeholders include police, district attorneys, mental health and drug treatment providers, housing providers and other service agencies, the business community, public defenders, elected officials, and community leaders.

Arizona: Governor Vetoes 'Secret Police' Bill; Civil Rights Advocates Rejoice

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday vetoed SB 1445, a bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to conceal police officers’ identities for months following their involvement in violent or deadly incidents.

“Governor Ducey has lived up to his promise to hear the concerns of the community regarding SB 1445, and we want to both thank the Governor and praise him for his openness in directly accepting public feedback concerning this misguided and harmful piece of legislation," said ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler. "We also want to thank the members of the Gov. Ducey’s staff who, last week, graciously accepted the ACLU’s letter opposing SB 1445, signed by more than three-dozen community leaders and local, statewide and national organizations, along with a petition calling for the veto of SB 1445 signed by over 2,500 concerned Arizonans and others from around the country."

“We are grateful that Gov. Ducey considered the dangerous ramifications of this bill, for both law enforcement and the public," Soler said. "This proposal would have taken Arizona in the wrong direction, by exacerbating distrust between communities and the public safety officers responsible for protecting them, while at the same time eroding the transparency that is critical to our democracy."

Arizona: Community Leaders To Speak Out Against 'Secret Police' Bill

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Community leaders in Arizona on Wednesday morning will speak out against Senate Bill 1445, a proposal being considered by the Arizona Legislature that would conceal police officers’ identities following their involvement in violent or deadly incidents.

SB 1445 threatens to further erode trust between law enforcement and communities by undermining the public's ability to hold officers and agencies accountable for abusive behavior. Current law properly balances the public’s right to know with officer privacy.

The stakes are high. If this bill becomes law in Arizona, it will send a harmful message to cities and states across the country that it's appropriate to keep officers' identities secret.

That’s why community leaders are banding together to stop this bill from becoming law.

WHO: Community leaders, including Pastor Warren Stewart, Jr., Rev. Reginald Walton and Phoenix Human Relations Commission Chair Brendan Mahoney

WHAT: Speakers will address the harms of SB 1445 and announce a campaign to encourage Gov. Doug Ducey to veto this dangerous legislation if it reaches his desk.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Bolin Memorial Park, just east of the Arizona Capitol Complex (1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007).

Graphic: Albany NY a.k.a. Smalbany

Colorado: Sensible Asset Forfeiture Proposal Fails In Senate

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Advocates Reminded of the Often Undeserved Sway of Law Enforcement

This week an asset forfeiture reform proposal died in Colorado’s Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 006 aimed to join other states and the recent federal effort to curb the intrusive, arguably unconstitutional and financially distorted incentive practice of civil asset forfeiture.

State law provides people due process protections from state authorities seizing their property. However, local and state police often circumvent state law by turning seized assets over to federal authorities who then liquidate those assets and return the proceeds to local law enforcement.

SB 006 would have provided constitutional protections in the case of joint state and federal asset forfeiture proceedings -- requiring a conviction, mandating a pre-trial hearing and only allowing forfeiture proceedings for assets valued over $50,000. The bill attempted to deter frivolous and subjective forfeiture efforts by law enforcement.

The Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Criminal Defense Institute, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and many local lawyers, victims and like-minded civilians testified in favor of the bill.

U.S.: Senate Confirms Michael Botticelli As White House Drug Czar

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Advocates Praise Botticelli for Taking Steps Toward Health-Based Approach to Drug Policy

The U.S. Senate on Monday evening confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Michael Botticelli to become the next Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a position informally known as “drug czar.”

Botticelli has served as acting director of the ONDCP since March 2014, following the resignation of former drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske. Botticelli previously served as ONDCP’s Deputy Director. Before joining ONDCP, Botticelli spent nearly two decades overseeing substance misuse programs at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“Michael Botticelli represents, in many ways, a significant improvement on all his predecessors as drug czar,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It’s not just that he comes from a public health background but that he seems truly committed to advancing more science-based and compassionate drug policies where the politics allow.

"What he most needs to do now is shed the political blinders that impel him both to defend marijuana prohibition and close his eyes to highly successful harm reduction measures abroad,” Nadelmann said.

U.S.: Attorney General Eric Holder Ends Incentive For Law Enforcement To Seize Property

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Property Seizures by Local and State Police Often Conducted Under Pretext that Property Is Connected to Illegal Drugs

Advocates Applaud Holder for New Policy, Urge Congress to Make Reforms Permanent

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday issued an order establishing a new policy prohibiting federal agencies from accepting civil asset forfeiture assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies unless the owner is convicted of a crime. The U.S. Treasury Department, which has its own forfeiture program, is issuing a similar policy.

The new policy will greatly restrict the ability of state and local police forces to use fedeal law to seize goods without charging an individual with a crime. Civil asset forfeiture is a process by which authorities seize property alleged to have been involved in a crime, charge the property directly, since goods do not have the same constitutional protections as their owners, and then keep most of the proceeds for departmental use.

The Department of Justice becomes involved after a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property pursuant to state law and requests that a federal agency take the seized asset and forfeit it under federal law.

California: Cop Takes Home 4 Pounds of Marijuana; Won't Be Charged

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you've ever doubted the existence of police privilege, it may be time to reassess. A police officer in California who was caught redhanded with marijuana in his home earlier this year -- more than 4 pounds of it -- "probably" won't be charged with a crime due to "lack of evidence."

K-9 Officer Joe Avila has been on paid leave since September, pending results of an internal investigation, according to the Richmond Police Department, reports Rick Hurd at the Contra Costa Times.

The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office has been "investigating" but "is not inclined to file charges," said Robin Lipetzky, the county's chief public defender. That decision "likely" comes from "evidence not strong enough to produce a conviction," according to Lipetzky (remember, they caught this cop with between 4 and 5 pounds of weed in his house).

A search warrant obtained by the Contra Costa Times showed that Avila picked up a box containing 4 to 5 pounds of cannabis from a UPS store on November 25, 2013. He then radioed a dispatcher to say he'd file an incident report.

But Officer Avila never filed that report. Instead, he took the marijuana to his home in Oakley instead of placing it in a department evidence locker, which would have been policy.

California: Attorney General Kamala Harris Says Legal Marijuana Is Inevitable

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legalized marijuana is inevitable, California Attorney General Kamala Harris admitted this week, and she has no "moral opposition" to that happening and is "not opposed" it, she said.

This comes as something of a surprise, since Harris won reelection in California last month by beating the pro-marijuana Republican candidate, Ron Gold, reports RT.com. But while Harris said pot legalization has a "certain inevitability," she didn't actually endorse it.

Harris, the consummately cautious politician, hedged her bets by claiming she had "concerns" over the law enforcement implications of legalization.

"I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana,” Harris told Buzzfeed News in an interview. “I'm the top cop, and so I have to look at it from a law enforcement perspective and a public safety perspective.

"I think we are fortunate to have Colorado and Washington be in front of us on this and figuring out the details of what it looks like when it’s legalized,” Harris said. “We're watching it happen right before our eyes in Colorado and Washington.

"I don't think it’s gonna take too long to figure this out,” Harris said to Buzzfeed. “I think there's certain inevitability about it."

Oregon: Marijuana Legalization Activists Send Open Letter to Oregon DAs

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Oregon marijuana legalization activists involved in the successful campaign for Measure 91, which legalized cannabis for adults 21 and older in the state, on Thursday sent an open letter to district attorneys statrewide.

Open Letter to Oregon District Attorneys

Criminal justice advocates and leaders call upon you to start now on implementing important drug policy reforms.

Although Oregon voters passed Measure 91 with a 12-point margin, implementation of this better, smarter approach to marijuana policy will not be complete until the first half of 2016. We don't have to wait until then to start to mitigate the damage done by decades of criminalization, wasted law enforcement time and squandered taxpayer money.

Prosecutors in Oregon's largest county have already decided to dismiss, and stop prosecuting, marijuana-related offenses that would no longer exist under Measure 91. Other county prosecutors should follow Multnomah County's lead.

A strong majority of Oregon voters have directed the state to stop treating marijuana as a crime and to better prioritize our limited law enforcement resources. With so many lives and so much money at stake, waiting would be unreasonable and clearly damaging to Oregon's communities. We should work quickly to limit the damage already caused by a feckless war against marijuana.

We urge you to cease enforcement of marijuana laws that will no longer exist when provisions of Measure 91 take effect in July.

Respectfully,

Anthony Johnson, Director, New Approach Oregon, Chief Petitioner of Measure 91

U.S.: FBI Reports 693,000 Arrests For Marijuana Offenses In 2013

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More than 87% were for simple possession

An estimated 693,481 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana in 2013, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report. More than 87 percent of these arrests were for possession, which means one person was arrested for marijuana possession approximately every 51 seconds on average in the United States.

The same report last year showed that 749,842 marijuana arrests were made in 2012.

“We're pleased to see the drop, but arresting even one adult for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol is inexcusable," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Every year we see millions of violent crimes attributed to alcohol, and the evidence is clear that marijuana is not a significant contributing factor in such incidents. Yet our laws continue to steer adults toward drinking by threatening to punish them if they make the safer choice. These arrest numbers demonstrate that the threat is very real.

"Law enforcement officials should be spending their time and resources addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana," Tvert said. "Every year, these statistics show hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related arrests are taking place and countless violent crimes are going unsolved. We have to wonder how many of those crimes could be solved — or prevented — if police weren't wasting their time enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws.

Oregon: Marijuana Regulation Campaign Launches First Ad Blitz TV Spot

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Oregon's Measure 91 campaign to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana officially launched its $2 million plus advertising blitz, debuting a retired law enforcement officer in the TV spot.

The new ad -- which you can see at the bottom of this story -- hit the airwaves Wednesday morning and is running on a wide range of broadcast and cable networks, including the newscasts of KGW, KATU, KOIN, KPTV, KEZI, KVAL and KMTR.

"It's About Time" features Pete Tutmark, a longtime Oregonian who has spent 33 years in law enforcement, including many years as patrol sergeant, sheriff's deputy and the supervisor of a K9 unit. The 57-year-old father of two and grandfather of three lives in Canby, Ore.

"Last year in Oregon, there were 13,000 citations and arrests for marijuana," Tutmark says in the ad. "That takes time, time better spent solving murders, rape cases, finding missing children. The system's broken. Measure 91 regulates marijuana for adults so police have time to fight serious, violent and unsolved crimes."

Tutmark joins high-profile law enforcement leaders in Oregon who have endorsed the Yes on 91 campaign, including retired chief federal prosecutor Kris Olson and retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs.

Oregon: Retired Chief Federal Prosecutor Says Vote Yes To Legalize Marijuana

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Measure 91: Kris Olson, one of Oregon's most respected prosecutors, endorses campaign

Oregon's former U.S. Attorney, one of the most respected prosecutors in the state, has endorsed Measure 91, which would regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Kris Olson has worked in justice and law enforcement for more than 40 years."I enforced our marijuana laws, and they don't work," she said.

"Filling our courts and jails has failed to reduce marijuana use, and drug cartels are pocketing all the profits," Olson said.

Olson joins several other high-profile supporters of Measure 91, including former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs and former Addictions and Mental Health Services of Oregon director Richard Harris.

Hundreds of other Oregonians and some of the state's most prominent organizations have also endorsed the measure.

U.S.: Bipartisan Bill Introduced To Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement

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Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Raul Labrador (R-ID) Propose Legislation to Reform Pentagon Military Transfer Program that Fuels the Drug War

Legislation is a Response to Alarming Images of Militarized Law Enforcement in Ferguson and other parts of the Country

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Raul Labrador (R-ID) on Tuesday introduced legislation to reform the Pentagon program which transfers military equipment to law enforcement. The program has come under increased scrutiny from lawmakers after images from Ferguson, Missouri, showed law enforcement dressed like combat soldiers, using military equipment to deal with protestors.

The Pentagon program has its roots in the Drug War, coming to fruition in the early 90s as the U.S. government militarized its approach to drug policy. Just last week, Senators held a hearing on the issue of militarization in our law enforcement, where they critical of the Pentagon program.

U.S.: Retired Seattle Police Chief Connects Ferguson To Drug War In Senate Hearings

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In the wake of tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, that focused the public’s attention on the increasing militarization of police, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday held a hearing on police militarization. Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, who oversaw and now regrets his role in the militaristic response to the Seattle WTO protests in 1999, has been in consultation with the Committee and has submitted written testimony which appears in its entirety below.

Meanwhile, in New York City, a group of dignitaries including former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the former presidents or prime ministers of Brazil, Switzerland, Colombia, Chile, Portugal, Poland, Greece and Mexico, and a long list of other top leaders are meeting this morning to release a new report calling for putting public health and safety first through the decriminalization of drug use and possession and the institution of legalized regulation of drug markets.

“The drug war is inextricably linked to most major issues of our time, from immigration to police militarization,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of law enforcement officers opposed to the War On Drugs. "It’s the cause of much of the violence on our streets and in communities worldwide.

Arizona: Surprise, Surprise - Law Enforcement Opposes Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a bit of news that surprises absolutely no one, a majority of Arizona's sheriff's and county attorneys officially oppose the legalization of marijuana. Just to make sure we know that, they helpfully approved a resolution by voice vote at their annual meeting.

The resolution came as marijuana advocates have selected Arizona for a legalization drive for 2016, reports Yvonne Wingett Sanchez at the Arizona Republic. The Marijuana Policy Project plans to pursue full recreational legalization through a voter initiative in the state.

The resolution adopted by a voice vote of the Arizona County Attorney & Sheriff's Association meeting includes nearly two dozen whiney points outlining why the group refuses to join the 21st Century. It includes such fanciful Reefer Madness claims as marijuana being harmful to teen IQ (it actually grows brain cells) and pot use "leading to risky behavior."

The exercise in futility, I mean the law enforcement resolution, cites more than two pages of references to support its outlandish statements.

Graphic: 420 Petition

U.S.: Some Police Stop Ripping Up Marijuana Plants In Medical States

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Police in some medical marijuana states -- who once ripped up marijuana plants by the roots without a second thought, or just stashed them away to die -- are now reevaluating the practice.

Police departments from Colorado and Washington to Hawaii and California are being sued by people who want their cannabis back after prosecutors chose not to charge them, or they were acquitted, reports Sadie Gurman at The Associated Press.

Some former suspects are asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash compensation to replace dead plants that the cops either uprooted, or left to die in evidence rooms.

Police departments in some municipalities have, therefore, either stopped rounding up the plants, or have started collecting just a few samples and photographing the rest to use as evidence in court.

"None of us are really sure what we're supposed to do, and so you err on the side of caution," claimed Mitch Barker, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

The evolving paradigm under which cannabis is now viewed as medicine rather than as a dangerous scourge which must be wiped out is responsible for the changing ways police departments deal with the question.

"Law enforcement is going to have to think more carefully about what their procedures are and how those procedures might need to change in light of changes in the law," said University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin.

Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Proposal To Receive House Floor Vote Wednesday

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As lawmakers prepare for vote, second TV ad hitting Gov. Mark Dayton for obstructing the medical marijuana proposal will begin premiering tonight across Minnesota

The Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to hold a floor vote Wednesday on a proposal that would allow people with serious illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

Specifically, the House will vote on an amendment offered Tuesday by State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) that would add the medical marijuana program to a broader health policy bill, HF 2402. Unlike the medical marijuana bill currently being considered in the legislature, HF 1818, Rep. Garofalo's proposal would prohibit smoking and home cultivation of medical marijuana.

The Republican lawmaker's proposal comes as medical marijuana advocates are working to develop a legislative compromise on HF 1818. Gov. Mark Dayton continues to refuse to support the measure, which would actually provide patients with legal access to medical marijuana, because law enforcement associations oppose it. In March, the governor proposed alternative legislation that would fund medical marijuana research, but would not provide patients with access to medical marijuana or protect them from arrest and prosecution.

Maryland: Law Enforcement, Public Square Off On Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seldom has there been a clearer divide between the will of the people and the wishes of law enforcement to hold onto their power. With the Maryland Senate taking a final vote on decriminalizing marijuana on Friday, supporters squared off with police officers in a battle of words, with the cops seemingly unwilling to let go of almost 80 years of war on a plant.

Dozens of uniformed law enforcement officers from around the state showed up at the state capital on Thursday to oppose popular efforts by some legislators to loosen Maryland's marijuana laws, reports Megan Brockett of Capital News Service.

The packed committee room became tense at times, as law enforcement officials attempted to fight back against the rising tide of support for changing the cannabis laws. Many officers voiced passionate opposition to any loosening of the pot laws, darkly warning of "unintended consequences" that supposedly might follow. In a quite revealing admission, some officers argued that changing the laws would hinder the ability of cops to conduct searches on the basis of marijuana odor.

Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Patients and Advocates Gather at Governor's Mansion

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Patients and Advocates Deliver a Provocative 'Get Better Soon' Card to Gov. Dayton, Who Is Recovering From Hip Surgery

Huge greeting card urges the Governor to 'show some backbone' and 'stop bowing to law enforcement,' which is holding up a bill that would allow seriously ill Minnesotans to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

A group of medical marijuana patients and advocates gathered in front of the Minnesota Governor's Mansion at 12:30 Thursday afternoon to deliver a very large and provocative 'get better soon' card to Gov. Mark Dayton, who is recovering from hip surgery. Following a brief news conference, patients, their family members, and supporters signed the card, which was then delivered to the governor by a Burnsville, Minnesota man suffering from muscular dystrophy.

The huge greeting card urges the Governor to "show some backbone" and "stop bowing to law enforcement," which is holding up a bill that would allow seriously ill Minnesotans to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. An inscription inside the card reads: "You took action to relieve your pain. Will you take action to relieve ours?"

Colorado: Police Want More Money For Marijuana Enforcement

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Wait, this is legalization? Colorado's police chiefs are asking the state for more money for "marijuana enforcement," whining that they are "disappointed" in Governor John Hickenlooper's plan for how to spend cannabis taxes.

In a letter sent to the Governor earlier this week, the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police complained that Hickenlooper's plan has no money specifically for local law enforcement, reports John Ingold at The Denver Post. The letter asks Hickenlooper to support the creation of a program to give grants to police departments to "cover extra costs related to marijuana legalization."

If that sounds strange, after hearing all these years how marijuana legalization would save on law enforcement costs, then yeah. It surely does.

"Many of our local law enforcement agencies have diverted staff from other operations into marijuana enforcement, leaving gaps in other service areas as a direct result of marijuana legalization," the letter whines.

The association wants the marijuana money for training officers to identify stoned drivers; buying "oral fluid testing" to catch impaired drivers; and creating a statewide database of "marijuana crimes."

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