Texas Police Ignore Native Decriminalization Ordinance in Spite of Voter Approval


Stress is constructing in a small Texas metropolis between police, advocates, and elected officers. In Denton, Texas, police—sworn to guard and serve—are allegedly ignoring the need of the individuals, persevering with citations and arrests regardless of a hashish decriminalization measure that was authorized final 12 months.

NBC DFW reports {that a} “battle is brewing” within the metropolis over who controls the way in which hashish legal guidelines are enforced. 

In accordance with a special presentation with a three-month report by Denton Metropolis Supervisor Sara Hensley at a Metropolis Council session on Tuesday, police in the city aren’t abiding by the voter-approved decriminalization measure handed final November, and are citing and arresting individuals for low-level hashish possession anyhow. She additionally offered an evidence.

Through the Midterm elections on Nov. 5, 2022, voters in Denton approved Proposition B with over 70% of the vote to decriminalize possession of 4 ounces or much less of hashish, with some exceptions. It additionally bans police from utilizing the odor check for possible trigger and restricts metropolis cash from getting used on THC drug testing. Proposition B turned efficient Nov. 22, as soon as canvassing the election was accomplished. 

In accordance with the Metropolis Supervisor, the City of Denton Police Department are performing as if the proposition by no means handed and are nonetheless arresting and citing individuals for low-level hashish possession. Hensley defined that state and federal legal guidelines supersede metropolis regulation, and that the police are sworn in by the state.

Denton Metropolis Councilmembers Vicki Byrd and Brandon Chase McGee requested why the regulation isn’t being noticed. Councilmember Byrd requested, “Are you able to clarify to the individuals at house how somebody no person elected resembling your self, is empowered to create public coverage even after 32,000 voters offered a directive in any other case?” Mayor Professional Tem Brian Beck also chimed in, asking comparable questions.

The Metropolis Supervisor responded by saying that the police are sworn in to the state and subsequently town regulation can’t override Texas regulation.

Contemplating the work that Decriminalize Denton put into getting Proposition B on the poll and spreading consciousness is sort of a slap within the face for hashish advocates within the space.

“By persevering with to quote and arrest for misdemeanor-quantity hashish and paraphernalia possession after an awesome majority of Denton voters handed an ordinance banning the follow, Denton’s Police Division and Metropolis Administration are staging an authoritarian rebel towards the voters and taxpayers who pay their salaries,” Deb Armintor, a consultant of Decriminalize Denton informed Excessive Occasions in an assertion.

“These publicly funded insurrectionists are joined by disgraced councilmembers Jesse Davis, Chris Watts, and Mayor Gerard Hudspeth, who’ve chosen to assist these power-abusing bureaucrats as a substitute of the individuals they’re elected to serve.

“It will imply the world to us right here in Denton if our allies nationwide took a second to e mail these councilors and bureaucrats to allow them to know the world is watching they usually’re on the unsuitable aspect of Historical past.”

The Denton Police Division offered an announcement when Proposition B was carried out final November.

“As a forward-thinking company, marijuana possession alone has not been a precedence for the Denton Police Division for a number of years,” said Denton Police Chief Doug Shoemaker. “It will proceed to be the case. With that stated, officers should preserve discretion to have the ability to preserve our group protected from hurt. When marijuana possession pairs with different crimes that have an effect on public security, together with offenses resembling driving whereas intoxicated or firearms violations, such acts can’t and won’t be ignored.”

However the Denton Police Division added this to the press release:

“The Police Division will proceed to evaluate points of this ordinance, as handed by voters, to find out what could be carried out in accordance with each the present regulation in addition to the voices of the inhabitants we serve.”

Between June 2021 and July 2022, of the 65 arrests that the Denton Police Division made for hashish possession below 4 ounces. However remember the fact that 15 of those fees accompanied different fees unrelated to hashish, and weapons have been concerned in 31.

Denton joined San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin and Harker Heights in Texas, to overwhelmingly approve native poll propositions to decriminalize low-level possession, after Austin decriminalized hashish earlier. In different cities, there doesn’t seem like an issue implementing these measures.

How police proceed to implement legal guidelines within the metropolis stays up for debate.

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