BREAKING: Vast Majority of All Seattle Pot Tickets Written by Same Officer

Comments

1
um ...

How about they don't smoke in public ... then you won't get a ticket.

2
I have absolutely no doubt that marijuana crime punishment has been unfairly doled out upon minorities. That said: there's no reason to automatically believe that the small sample size of SPD's public-smoking citations is a demonstration of this problem. In other words, if black kids smoke marijuana in front of cops at the same rate that they are being arrested for it, then they are not being disproportionately targeted. Mudede acknowledged in his piece this week that he sees black youth smoking weed in parks more than whites.

It is fairly comforting that this is coming from one cop. One huge asshole of a cop.
4
How about the SPD focus on keeping the peace...
5
My best friend is a black person, or would be if I had any friends... But before we get out the pitchforks.

32.9% of 83 tickets is 27.3 tickets so even if the officer wrote all of the tickets which black people received they would still have written 39 or so tickets to people of other races. FWIW, I find the math here a bit suspect. It should divide more evenly. Can one ticket address multiple people?

I'm not sure the small number of tickets total and the large number written by one individual necessarily justify outrage. The simple idea that the officer's beat involves a different racial mix than the city at large, and that the officer clearly is taking enforcement more seriously than anyone else, means the numbers might make sense in a non-racist sort of way.
6
Seems like a pretty easy fix.
1. Put up signs etc to tell kids etc that pot is only legal at home etc.
2. Tell cops to hand out warning tickets only if obvious repeat offender and/or for next six months or so.
7
@Aner

The places these tickets are being written are generally places with fairly high police presence to keep the peace. If you're going to smoke pot in a place where you know there will be cops, you kind of deserve your ticket.
8
@2 Congratulations! Not everyone can come to (mostly) reasonable conclusions when starting with such a flawed understanding.

Feel free to consult the earlier thread regarding your errors about the word "disproportionate", sample size, etc.

Thanks.
9
Smoking weed in public is offensive, it smells like skunk ass. Entering the bus immediately after smoking weed at the stop is even more cruel since it stinks the whole bus up. And, this seems to happen way more on the 8 than it does the 43.
11
People should be able to enjoy a beer or a joint in public if they're not otherwise being a nuisance. As much as I hate people that wear patchouli I accept that they have a right to public spaces and so should someone that smells of pot or alcohol.
12
"Oh no, someone smells! Let's sick men with guns on them!"

Seriously, this is where we're at. Let people live their lives.

13
When can we find out the cop's name? The asshole needs to go.
14
I actually don't feel so bad about this report. Folks displaying rather anti-social illegal behavior are getting punished for their transgressions and some lawless parts of downtown are actually getting policed.
15
@12 yep, no doubt people should live their lives as they see fit…in their own homes. Smoking at the bus stop is illegal, no matter the substance. You think smoking weed is different than regular cigarettes?
16
That's what I get for giving somebody the benefit of the doubt.
17
Who's the cop doing this?
18
I think what this shows is that we need programs to help white people hang out and enjoy those parks more. There must be something wrong with the current populations of those parks and how they're excluding white people from the mix. We can start by having special field trips for the non-minorities to be brought out to the parks, maybe with some sort of draw like a concert with a special "embrace your non-minorityness" message. We just need to find some band that appeals to the target audience... maybe Dave Matthews Band.
19
I'll just through this out there; perhaps the city doesn't want a lot if pot smoke in the two biggest tourist destinations, especially Steinbruck park. I mean, really, you walk through the market with the kids, ice cream cones in hand, and at the end you have pit smile wafting from the park. There needs to be particular places in the city where pot Somme is out of the question. Would it be asking too much to not have it near the carousel in Wrstlake park during Christmas?
20
Of course, plenty of white people are getting stoned outside in public parks & pedestrian areas, it's just that they're mostly using $200 vape pens & getting stoned on comparatively odorless hash oil, rather than stinky bud, so naturally the cops aren't targeting THEM.
21
Remember when opponents of legalization thought there would be DUIs and tickets happening left and right, constantly? Yeah, not really....
22
@20
Kids with $200 Nikes can't afford pipe & hash oil?

And considering the Seattle population, the number of arrests are extremely low and from ONE cop so in terms of systemic racism, doesn't seem arguable.
To claim that "cops are targeting" ANYONE seems a bit excessive.
23
I'm white. I smoke weed walking down the street all the time. In broad daylight, at night, whatever and whenever the fuck. I don't even think twice about it anymore.
24
@15

"You think smoking weed is different than regular cigarettes?"

In a practical sense one gets you high, the other just gives you a small boost while being far more addictive. But in a legal sense someone should be able to smoke them in a public place.

If you don't like that the great unwashed masses are smelly you can certainly suggest that they should bathe but it's ridiculous to say that we should send armed agents of the state to enforce what is merely someone's preference for odor. We might as well ticket people for wearing ugly clothing or having bad taste in music. Night Ranger should not result in armed bureaucrats. Nor should a doobie in a park or a public sidewalk.
25
@19

"Would it be asking too much to not have it near the carousel in Wrstlake park during Christmas?"

Your Christmas spirit is interfering with their right to enjoy a marijuana cigarette in public. Their marijuana cigarette is simply something you find distasteful. The agent acting with force in this situation is you, not them, and for no reason other than the fact that you find them yucky.
26
@1 whoooosh

@14 doesn't care about blatant discrimination as long as they get to judge people. Duly noted.

I like new chief so far, transparency and action seems to be her modus operandi. We'll see if it's smoke and mirrors.

And all you usual trolls can fuck off as usual.
27
Cigarettes smell worse than pot ANY.DAY.OF.THE.WEEK.

Also, I do like how a bunch of you keep saying "smoke in your house!" A lot of these people don't have a house. You say "BUT THE CHILDREN!" Alcohol has been legal for a long time and has done far more damage than weed. So....stop being all dramatic..
28
What 26 said.
29
I blame McGinn for his increased focus on downtown crime. and I think that's a good thing.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2…
Responding to a growing focus on downtown crime and street problems, Seattle police announced Wednesday they plan to shift some bicycle patrols to foot beats in parts of downtown.

"Foot beats are the most effective way to deter the sorts of behavior that can negatively affect our quality of life," Interim Police Chief John Diaz said in a written statement.

Diaz said police departments across the country consider foot beats to be a "best practice" to deal with concerns about civility.

The redeployment, which will start April 1 under a pilot project, was ordered at the direction of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
30
@29: McGinn lost. Get over it.
31
Everyone who says "Just don't smoke in public, then" is either oblivious or blinded by privilege. Not everyone owns a house. Where is a renter who lives in a non-smoking building supposed to go to smoke weed?
32
@31 it's more about not smoking weed in pain view of police. This is happening in Westlake center as I type this.
33
When the name of the officer is revealed I'm betting win on the last name beginning with J, place on last name beginning with Bu, and show...not sure, but as a wild guess Be.

When I-75 made marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority there were a couple of officers who accounted for a goodly % of arrests and they're both still on day bikes.
34
Here in DC, possession has just been decriminalized and is now a $25 fine, which I think is about what the fine is in Seattle for public smoking. Get caught doing that here and it's $500 and 60 days (which they lowered from 6 months.) If you're on Federal property – and it's not always easy keeping track of whether you are or aren't – even simple possession can get you a year in jail.

Still, I smell it on the street all the time. Never been busted for public smoking, but whenever I've come close it was because I didn't see a cop who was on a bike until it was almost too late.
35
@5 I think there's a possibility that it it's actually the one vigilant cop who's "colorblind." He's out there every day biking up and down third ave and whenever he sees someone smoking. If he ticketed black people according to their 7% representation, that would mean he would've handed out 4-5 of his 66 tickets to black people. But really, POC representation is higher than that in the downtown core. I don't know what it is exactly, but a share of 15% would equal 10 tickets handed out. So, if this guy was ticketing in line with demographics, that would mean an additional 17 tickets were handed out to make that 32.9% number. Which, (faux)coincidentally, is the number of tickets issued by officers other than our crusader. Maybe it's just that every other cop but this guy is only issuing tickets to black people?
36
I don't give a shit about the tickets, but what I want to know (and The Stranger should check) is if this cop who stopped and issued these tickets used this as an excuse to do searches or find other excuses to make an arrest. Clearly the cop is pretty gung-ho, so this is a potential outcome.
37
Fuck officer Buzz Kill.
38
Ah it is good to be a middle age middle class White Guy, I've been pulled up on several times a few after doing a one hit, while walking my dogs around my intercity neighborhood late at night, drinking a beer, and after pulling down the hood of my hoodie (it gets cold where I live and I don't like hats), just got asked if I had doggie poop bags on me. Rather apologetically.
40
@31
Really. So you have a problem finding a place to smoke pot and you go to Steinbrueck or Occidental Parks, two of the busiest and most intensely-policed parks in Seattle.
Sheesh.

Btw, this ONE cop does seem to have been a bit of a cowboy and overly-enthusiastic at his job:
http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2014…
41
Comment sections for issues like this are just honeypots for racists, right? Now we know who's who - awesome.
43
@20: That might have to be the compromise. By using vape pens, cops can't tell what you are inhaling so they don't have to deal with it, sort of like paper bags:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2fV-_eiK…
44
@41 My friend is black! Or, just overly tan.
45
Wait, a cop is doing his job, and Seattle's bedwetters ... wet their beds?
46
@40

No, I don't smoke in those places but then I don't live around there, either. I guess I'm fortunate enough not to live near there. If I did, should I have to travel somewhere out of my way just for 4 hits?

I most often wander around the alley behind my apt when I smoke. But I think adults shouldn't be harassed for smoking a joint walking down the sidewalk. Unless you're blowing smoke directly in someone's face or being loud and unruly, people should leave you alone.
47
There is one very good reason to keep post off the street: we want to make sure that the I-502 stays and that the feds don't see an excuse to do something dumb.

That means that we in Washington should be mildly discrete in our pot-smoking.

Since one of the rules set down -- "can't smoke in public" -- seems pretty mild, I have no problem with cops ticketing people smoking in public _if it's a really public spot_ like downtown parks where lots of tourists are going to see it and may freak.

As to people who live in non-smoking apartment buildings, I see the issue and I am sure that there will be some way around ... brownies?
48
@43 Fine, go back to their hoods and smoke at their corner store. Not downtown in a major public park next to our biggest tourist site.
49
"people should leave you alone."

You can't drink in public. You can't masturbate in public. Why should you be allowed to break this law? Are you fucking special?
50
Abuse of power, huh? Sure hope he's fired.
51
"Abuse of power"

How is enforcing the law 'abuse of power' exactly?
52
@51, if he were enforcing the law, he wouldn't have been violating civil rights.

That's a much more serious offense than smoking in public, you know. I mean, you are one of those law and order types, right? Or should laws only apply to black people, in your opinion?
53
@40, Joker of Joker and Burns is a racist ? So much for that 2005 medal and the Neighborhood Corrections Initiative.

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/P…
'Get it together'

Riding in the van, Mills said a lot of the people associated with the program have been in law enforcement for a long time and welcomed trying to get to the sources of crime. "Ultimately it's about breaking cycles," she said.

A few days after the early morning rounds, Joker and Burns were back patrolling Third Avenue and Pike Street on their bicycles. A young man said he was waiting on the corner while his girlfriend shopped "because I don't like shopping." But the officers had noticed him roaming around downtown all day, and a check on his corrections records found he'd violated the terms of his release by failing a drug test. They warned him to leave. He stuck around, so they took him to jail.

The man was upset. He'd gotten a job, he said. He'd been checking in with his probation officer every day.

Burns said it was true he hadn't seen him doing anything illegal. But hanging out downtown, Burns said, could only lead to trouble.

"I could just do nothing and just wait for you to do something and throw in you in jail," Burns told him. "But the only reason I'm on you is I want you to get it together.

"Dude, you really have to get it together."
54
Defenders of this cop conveniently ignore the most important information available.
1: this cop is very public about his displeasure with marijuana legalization. He's a cop; its his job to uphold and respect the law. He doesn't get to choose which laws he will or will not enforce, or which laws he will choose to over zealously enforce out of petulance and spite.
2: he made his unprofessionalism clear when he addressed tickets "Attn: Petey Holmes". This is gross insubordination.

At this time, the police have been given an official mandate to be hands off about enforcement of public use while the public adjusts to legalization and what that means. The actions of this cop are petty, counterproductive and juvenile, and damage what little credibility the SPD has left.
Officer Jokela (he has now been identified in the Seattle Times) would do well to remind his petulant, childish self that he is a public servant, patrolling MY streets, in MY city, payed for by MY tax dollars.
If he can't do that in a professional manner, acting in accordance with standards and expectations of MY community, then he fuck right off and get a job with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. I think he might like it there.
55
Here are the citations in question: http://spdblotter.seattle.gov/wp-content…
56
@51, the law says this is SPD's lowest law enforcement priority. If there was anything else happening in Seattle that required police officers' attention when he wrote these tickets, he was in violation by wasting time on a lower-priority issue. Any jaywalkers around? Unlicensed pets? What's the clearance rate on auto thefts these days?

There is just no practical way that investigating suspected violation of pot laws in Seattle should ever warrant police time since we passed I-75 years ago. When they get around to their lowest priority, we should think about downsizing the force.
57
I'm not going to read all these comments. Would someone be so kind to summarize the consensus for me? One or two sentences. Not much to ask. Ya know, throw off the bells and whistles, and get to the heart of what Sloggers are saying. Thanks.
58
@57: The consensus is that you are a dickhead. It is unanimous and everyone wishes you would go away.
59
I give O'Toole props.
60
@54 You're all about the capitalized "MY"'s in there. Curious where you live? I happen to live a block from Occidental Park -- one of only three locations where citations were issued. Does it not matter that I want the police to actually enforce the law in _MY_ neighborhood, on _MY_ streets, in _MY_ community? Because really, the point here is that while pot might be legal, blatantly smoking it in public wherever you want happens not to be. You accuse the cop of "choos[ing] which laws he will or will not enforce" but that's exactly what you're doing -- claiming that this is a law that shouldn't be enforced, in a place that happens to be _MY_ home. I'm happy to provide carpools for everyone in Occidental Park over to your place if you're so inclined?
61
This is a prime example of one of the reasons I voted for legalization. The drug laws give overzealous racist cops an excuse to harass and intimidate minorities and anyone they don't like. Selective (ie: racist) enforcement of drug laws is the #1 reason there are a disproportionate number of young black men in prison today.

If you think cops should ticket people for smoking in public, then the cops should be doing so evenly, throughout the city. But that's not what's happening. Instead, you've got one asshole cop with a hate-on for minorities and the poor.

That cop should be fired.
62
Get rid of that asshole cop.

And then once we've gotten rid of that asshole, let's expect beat-cop public-pot arrests in a given neighborhood to be evenly distributed amongst beat cops patrolling that neighborhood, approximately proportional to public-booze arrests in the same neighborhood, and in line demographically with the neighborhood's demographics (both resident and homeless).
63
Can't smoke in public and it's against the rules to smoke in the rental housing. Safer to take your chances on the street. The city needs some ok to smoke outside areas. One per block. And historically I think police find it easier to surf poor neighborhoods for drug tickets. Rich people do it in their homes. College students have their dorms.
64
@58
Yo, sweet dude with the tough lookin red shield beside your name. Thanks for the answer. Not quite what I was lookin for. But hey, it's cool bro. You run the show.
65
@60- like every other defender of this cop, you ignore the most important facts in this situation.
1: the police have been given an official mandate to issue warnings at this point.
2: nearly every ticket issued so far has been issued by one cop.
3: this cop, Officer Jokela, has been very public about his displeasure with legalization. Ergo, it is logical to assume he is acting out by issuing these citations.
4: he engaged in unprofessional conduct and insubordination by addressing the citations "Attn: Petey Holmes" this further substantiates the conclusion @3 that he is acting out of spite and maliciousness.

As to your point about wishing to have people smoking pot near your residence ticketed, fair enough, I suppose. After some as of now undefined grace period, they will be. But at this juncture, the orders given to patrolmen are to issue warnings.

I am much more concerned with angry, rogue SPD officers acting out in public than I am with your desire to seek recompense over the minor inconveniences of urban living.

I do not want rogue cops with obvious anger control issues patrolling MY streets. I do not want them paid for their disservice with MY tax dollars.
66
@60- also, for what it's worth, people smoke pot on the street in my neighborhood all the time. Whoopty doo.
I lived in pioneer square for four years. Granted, that was two decades ago, but if your major gripe with pioneer square living is that people smoke pot in occidental square, then there has been some rather phenomenal positive changes down there since I was a resident.
67
The guy was just doing further Neighborhood Corrections Initiative-type intervention against known bad actors. If only I could remember the name of that other arrogant blowhard who publicly called out Petey Holmes for failing to prosecute the low-level crimes being cited downtown....
68
O'Toole's on it. Finally, a good chief cop. So far, at least.
69
Those citations make for a bizarre read. Every single one I read through referenced a seemingly polite and cooperative defendant. Hey, what's the difference between the $27 and $103 infractions? Doesn't seem to do with a "possessing" vs "smoking" distinction, nor does the issue date seem to factor in (assuming the PDF is scanned roughly chronologically.)
70
@54 nailed it. The "attention petey holmes" written on the vast majority of tickets, as well as things like "allowed to keep his dope per our silly protocols" is the main issue here (questions of disproportionality aside - a problem with most all crimes). Message from the Chief to the rank and file, IMO - be professional or get the fuck out.

It does seem odd that we have a law that only one cop enforces....if that's the case, why even have that law?
71
As I bet in @33, when the last name of the officer is revealed it will begin with a J...and to the rescue rides Randy Jokela. Coincidence? I think not. He was also responsible for a huge percentage of arrests that took place post I-75. He is, by many accounts, a good officer. He is also very much opposed to drug policy reforms enacted locally.

Hopefully the new Chief can somehow circle this square and get him to either accept change or change his beat.
72
FIRST STEP: Find and publish the officer's full name and precinct.
73
Find and publish the officer's full name, and then give him a raise for enforcing the law at the behest of citizens who ask the SPD to enforce laws on open use.
74
@72:

Dude, put down the bong - his name and posting has been mentioned at least three times in this thread alone. Seriously, at least try to keep up with the rest of the class, um'kay?
75
No need to be a bitch, COMTE. I just scrolled to the bottom and commented. Lay off and quit being a shit.

Why don't you hammer into #73 as well, huh?
76
@73 - Hi Officer Jokela! Welcome to SLOG!
If you don't like working in Seattle, don't.
77
To all of you who are offended by a whiff of outdoor pot smoke:
Please shower two times every day, brush your teeth after every meal, stop farting in public, pick up your precious dog's shit, never idle your car, never spit on the sidewalk, always give pedestrians the right-of-way, don't mow your lawn on Sunday, stop yelling into your phone, and step aside when I'm behind you in the grocery line.
Or... You could move out of the city.
78
I feel the same way about lighting up in public as I do about drinking in public, there's a time and a place for everything and in public is not the right place. Besides, it's illegal and I'd rather not jeopardize the hard fought victory for legalization because of a few posers with no self control. It's always the 5% of us behaving like idiots who ruin it for the 95% who aren't.
79
Gnossos @3: come up and claim your prize, it was Jokula!
80
Ha! So good to have real data now...and the picture is so much clearer: one a-hole, who doesn't like the new laws, engages in bureaucratic rebellion by sending the elected LE a pile of these...plus, he gets to do so by abusing the people he probably enjoyed repressing previously with discriminatory laws.
81
pot smokers are fucking losers.

83
@79: Whatever post was previously @3 had been pulled ("trolling") by the time I read this 60-90 minutes later.
84
Oh, @33, not @3.
85
The cop who wrote those citations is Randall A. "Randy" Jokela #5453, according to a source for Steve Miletich and Jennifer Sullivan of Seattle Times.
86
@69 I'm confused too.

Stranger, your latest article on pot ticket prices puts the cost at $27 per ticket. Here you mention $55. Some tickets are $103. Can we get some clarification on what the law is?
87
I'm pretty sure Randy Jokela lives in Enumclaw. Incidents like these go to show that Seattle needs officers who actually live in Seattle and can relate to the values and culture of our community.
88
Based on what I've seen, this probably has more to do with *where* in public people choose to smoke. Of the people walking down the street purposely blowing it at others, they tend to be of a certain demographic, as highlighted in the article. *others* smoke it in public quite a bit, but more often on a park bench or outside of a bar where people are already smoking cigarettes.

There's a not so subtle difference between walking down the street discretely toking and burning a giant blunt puffing clouds of smoke on everyone nearby. The latter group is just trying to get a rise out of people and maybe start a fight - not cool at all.
89
Who would have thought an officer of the law could abuse his power in such a manner, my goodness! LOL. Kinda moot officer I can go on seattle.janeslist.org right now and get anything I want, quasi-legally at the very least. But on the flip side I wouldn't expect to get very far stumbling down the road with a bottle os jack in my hand in a school zone, would I...
90
"Don't smoke in public then"
Screw you. Stop driving in public then. Or I'm sending someone to write you a ticket for polluting my air, and maybe to shoot your dog. Ha! But you have to drive? Well I have to smoke, outside, because I travel, and camp. So take your nazi bs and shove it where the sun don't shine, you pretentious prick.
91
Dear folks wondering about the $55 and $27 discrepancy: The citation itself is for $27, but citations include assessment fees (essentially a processing charge). In this case, that brings it up to $55, which is why I described it as "punishable by $55 in fines." Ignoring the assessment fees is ignoring the real cost of a ticket. I wrote about the total cost last year.
92
@25: Uh, they're polluting the common air. Their behavior impacts others, so it is entirely reasonable for their behavior to be restricted.
93
Does no one else consider the consequences of secondhand weed smoke? If I walk through your cloud, you put my job at risk - the domino effect means that I risk my house, risk my car, and risk my kids' college fund because you want to get high in public. I live next to a North Seattle park and see at least a quarter go up in smoke between several park regulars every day. Do the cops respond as they do downtown? No, because the police density is lower and the tourism/business sector is of higher value (seriously, no pun intended) than our kids and other folks enjoying the parks. Either way, I'd like to keep my job, thank you.
94
@93. All of the research I have seen points that it is negligible that second hand smoke would ever show up on a drug test. And for it to do so you would need to have serious second hand exposure to do so. So really...you have nothing to worry about. The sky is not falling.
http://mobiledrugtestinglongisland.wordp…
95
Jesus, 93, get a grip. Walking through a cloud of smoke in a park is not going to cause you to lose your job.
96
"pot smokers are fucking losers."

Awwww, come on now, everyone knows Victor Steinbrueck Park is where Seattle's "winners" gather.
97
@75:

I am not responsible for your inability to read a comment thread. Don't want to look like a clueless nube - read what other people have posted ahead of you, before posing questions that have already been answered - repeatedly.

And I'm not "hammering" into @73, because it's an Unregistered Comment and I don't READ unregistered comments, and therefore do not comment on things I haven't read.
98
This is not the first time Officer Jokela has been featured on SLOG:
http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives…
99
I was about to throw my laptop off the desk after reading all these terribly irritating comments, but @93 made it worth it. Oooooooh, the horror! The "domino effect"! The smell of weed could make me lose EVERYTHING! Lolz for hours. Thank you.
100
@91 Damn, that's worse than Ticketmaster.