Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Austin PD finally will implement citations for petty misdemeanors

After a year and a half of delay, the Austin Chronicle reports the Austin Police Department will finally begin using new authority granted to them by the Lege to issue citations instead of arresting, at the officers' discretion, for certain low-level, nonviolent misdemeanors. Reports Jordan Smith ("Cite and release in (almost full) effect," Feb. 22):
On Feb. 22, the Austin Police Department began implementing the so-called cite-and-release law, which authorizes police to forgo arresting individuals for certain misdemeanor offenses. The law does not decriminalize any of the offenses – among them, possession of small amounts of marijuana – but allows an officer, under specific conditions, to decline to book a person into jail for initial processing, thereby saving time, money, and police manpower. The law does not eliminate the possibility of eventual jail time for the Class A and B offenses covered – if convicted, a defendant could still get six months in jail for a class B offense, or up to a year for class A. “Organizational efficiency and the prioritization of resource use is critical, especially during tough economic times,” said APD Chief Art Acevedo. “We believe this process will free up our limited resources and enable our officers to focus on more serious crimes.”

APD will implement the policy, codified by lawmakers in 2007, in both Hays and Travis counties. The Travis Co. Sheriff’s Office – whose top cop, Sheriff Greg Hamilton, along with County Attorney David Escamilla, helped lawmakers write the law in 2007 – has been using the option since the end of 2007. They say it has been a good way to keep deputies in the field.
See prior, related Grits posts:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, and apparently the Williamson County DA is having a hissy fit about it! That man takes himself way too seriously.