In Seattle, pot is pretty easy to find despite Initiative 502, which mandates a civil fine for any public marijuana consumption. One city police officer made ending recreational marijuana use his personal vendetta for 2014, writing almost 80 percent of the pot citations passed out in Seattle during the first half of this year.
Seattle’s chief of police, Kathleen O’Toole, pulled the officer from the streets after discovering his secret mission this month. She told reporters that the department is doing a full investigation, but the officer has been transferred to an administrative desk job for now.
As the story was first leaked, people were shocked to see that this veteran officer had even written notes on the marijuana tickets addressed to Seattle Attorney Pete Holmes, a vocal supporter of legalizing marijuana. On many of the citations, the name “Petey Holmes” is scribbled in the margins. When reporters contacted the attorney about the situation, he simply stated that he was thankful that Chief O’Toole was investigating the officer’s conduct.
Holmes later released an official statement about the tickets that supposed targeted him. “I am personally very sorry that apparently a significant number of homeless individuals were inconvenienced by an officer’s apparent attempt to get at me. But I’m really sorry that our citizens were unnecessarily inconvenienced,” he said.
The story gets even weirder when you look at how the officer determined who would get citations. He seemed to primarily target homeless people, but he also relied on coin tosses to determine who would get a ticket. He was very open about this method when he wrote the citations. In fact, he wrote on one report that he spotted two individuals smoking pot so he forced them to flip a coin to choose which one would receive a ticket. The person that lost the toss won a ticket and the officer let the other individual leave and keep the pipe.
The officer also used the tickets to express his personal opinion of the new changes to marijuana policies in Washington, calling the laws “silly”. So far, police department investigators have discovered that the cop put a bulls eye on the homeless and African American men. These two groups received the vast majority of the citations he issued. Nearly half of the individuals that were ticketed reported living in homeless shelters or transitional housing.
While this cop was definitely on a mission to support his personal views on pot, it’s encouraging that the Seattle police department acted quickly to stop him. They are being very open about the investigation and no one seems too upset that the out of control cop is now kept busy at a desk.