Seattle’s KOMO News is reporting that the city’s prosecutor plans to drop about 100 tickets issued for public marijuana use, because the vast majority of them were issued by a single police officer who disagrees with Washington state’s legalization of cannabis. In Washington state, it is legal to smoke marijuana, but not in public.
According to the report, about 60 of the tickets were issued by officer Randy Jokela. KOMO says that Jokela wrote political comments on some of the citations. A number of them contain the phrase “ATTN: Petey Holmes,” a reference to Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who supports legal marijuana.
Holmes was cited in July for bringing marijuana he had purchased legally to his office, violating “drug free workplace” rules. Holmes is dismissing all of the tickets issued for public use that were issued between January 1 and July 31. He is also planning to refund the $27 fine paid by some who received the citations.
While Jokela’s conduct was pretty benign compared to other incidents of police misconduct in recent times, it does highlight a problem that seems to be occurring more and more frequently: that of police who choose to enforce the law based on their own beliefs.
On one of the tickets, Jokela describes how he made two offenders flip a coin to determine which of them would receive the citation. The other was allowed to go without receiving a ticket. On another citation he refers to the marijuana law as “silly.”
Jokela was initially reassigned from his duty as a city bike officer, but he has since been reinstated. According to Seattle Police Department spokesman Drew Fowler, “Chief O’Toole and (Office of Professional Accountability) Director Pierce Murphy conferred and believed that nothing in the ongoing investigation precluded him from returning to his patrol duties.”
Here’s the video, courtesy of KOMO 4: