In total, there was 2,960 misdemeanor cannabis arrests between January and March of this year, down from 7,110 during the same period last year. Among those arrested, 50.47% were African-American and 38.18% were Hispanic, with just 7.7% considered white. 2.67% of those arrested were listed as Asian or Indian.
These numbers are similar to the disparity found last year, when just 9.14% of the 7,110 arrested for a cannabis misdemeanor were white.
When asked about the disparity, New York City Police responded to Newsweek – unconvincingly – that the numbers don’t reflect racially motivated policing, but instead results from data driven crime enforcement.
“The NYPD endeavors to assign its resources based, in considerable part, on an analysis of various conditions in different areas of the city”, the official said. “Among these conditions include level of crime, both major crime and lesser offenses. Another significant consideration relates to the nature and number of local citizen and community complaints in the various neighborhoods. This includes calls to 911, calls to 311 and complaints voiced by members of local precinct community groups”.
They continue; “Analysis has clearly shown that a significantly higher level of these conditions and complaints exist in those areas of New York City where there is also a high minority population. Based on these crime-related conditions, as well as complaints, the NYPD attempts to assign its resources to appropriately address these demands. A higher level of police presence in any particular area in which there is a greater level of offenses, in public, will often result in more enforcement activity.”
Obviously this argument fails to make clear why such policing methods would result in less than 1 in 10 cannabis arrestees being part of the city’s majority race.
The drop in total arrests from 2014 to 2015 is directly attributed to a change in policy by New York Mayor Bill De Blasio that found policy issuing tickets rather than arresting those with up to 25 grams of cannabis in public display.