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On March 29, Plano Police Chief Ed Drain sent a note to all staff announcing that the department would no longer be making custody arrests for possession of low-level cannabis in the county’s largest city. by Collin. The announcement came weeks after Marvin Scott III died in custody at the Collin County Detention Center after he was arrested by Allen police for possession of a single joint. Seven officers involved in Scott’s death have since been fired following an internal investigation. Further details of the ongoing Texas Rangers investigation have yet to be released.

The memo says that while the in-custody arrests will be suspended for possession of a Class B misdemeanor – less than two ounces of cannabis – officers will continue to seize cannabis and may continue to use its presence as probable cause for “further investigations. , as indicated. Officers can continue to make arrests for possession of Class A misdemeanors and criminal offenses involving cannabis.

Plano police to end low-level cannabis arrests

Photo credit: Adobe Stock Image

According to a press release from the Plano Police Department, instead of in-custody arrests for Class B offenses, officers can issue citations for possession of drug paraphernalia, which is a Class C offense.

The statement also said that the change was originally considered after a detailed examination of the costs and trends of arrests in November 2020, which indicated a racial disparity in arrests.

“Like many jurisdictions across the country, there is a disparity in the arrests of African Americans for possession of small amounts of marijuana compared to whites, although national drug use surveys show whites, African Americans, and Hispanics use marijuana at similar rates. This disparity in arrest data also contributed to the policy shift, ”the statement read.

Minister Dominique Alexander of the Next Generation Action Network in Dallas said his organization has been raising awareness among various police departments in Collin County, urging them all to end arrests for low-level cannabis possession after the death of Marvin Scott III.

“We sent a proposal to several police departments and were able to have a hearing with Chief Drain,” Alexander told the Dallas Weekly.

When contacted for further comment, Public Information Officer David Tilley said the timing of the announcement “happened to be a coincidence” with the death of Marvin Scott III.

“For this reason, Chief does not want any further comment from our department beyond the press release so as not to influence or create problems with their investigation,” Tilley continued.

Alexander was happy to see the memo released, but is hopeful that further reforms will come.

“I think this is a good start to get the biggest police department in Collin County to do it. I think it helps us with neighboring police departments like Allen, ”Alexander says. “And I think we can go further, like in Dallas. I think we can start having a conversation with [the] Plano City Council to achieve full decriminalization. “

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