By James Queally
Seattle officials are making a push to vacate every summons issued for smoking or possessing marijuana in public in 2014 after reports that one police officer issued more than 80% of the tickets this year.
Kimberly Mills, a spokeswoman for Seattle City Atty. Peter Holmes, told the Los Angeles Times that Holmes and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole "wanted to hit the reset button" on marijuana enforcement after a mid-year review suggested a disproportionate number of tickets were issued to blacks and homeless men and women. Washington legalized marijuana use in 2013, but residents are still subject to $27 fines for smoking or possessing marijuana in public.
A review of summonses this year showed more than 80% of the 100 issued in 2014 came from one police officer who routinely mocked in his reports the state's decision to legalize marijuana.
Though police have not disclosed the officer's identity, the Seattle Times identified him as Officer Randy Jokela.
"Some notes requested the attention of City Atty. Peter Holmes and were addressed to 'Petey Holmes,'" O'Toole said in July. "In another instance, the officer indicated he flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to cite. In another note, the officer refers to Washington's voter-enacted changes to marijuana laws as 'silly.'"
Mills said the city attorney's office asked the Seattle Municipal Court to dismiss each ticket Tuesday, and expected a decision soon. The City Council and Holmes would prefer that education in the form of warnings, rather than tickets, be used to stop residents from smoking marijuana in public, Mills said.
The city issued 100 tickets between Jan. 1 and July 30, according to Mills. Twenty-two had been paid, while 78 were in default. The twenty-two fines that were paid could be refunded, Mills said.
Det. Drew Fowler, a public information officer for the Seattle Police Department, said the officer who issued the tickets had returned to active patrol but remained the subject of an internal investigation.
(c)2014 the Los Angeles Times