Out of 83 pot-related tickets issued by the Seattle Police Department in the first half of 2014, 66 were issued by one man: Officer Randy Jokela. That’s about 80 percent.
According to the Seattle Police Department, Jokela, who the department did not name but The Seattle Times identified, is going to be reassigned to desk duty while the department’s Office of Professional Accountability conducts an investigation. Apparently, Jokela added some pretty unprofessional notes to some of the issued tickets; For example, one note indicated Jokela “flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to site.’’
In another note, he calls Washington’s voter-enacted changes to marijuana laws “silly.’’ Other notes requested the attention of City Attorney Peter Holmes, a supporter of Washington state’s legalization of marijuana, Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in a statement posted on the department’s website. Many notes were addressed to “Petey Holmes.’’
All of this was discovered when police recently published its first biannual report related to marijuana enforcement. The report also showed that African Americans were “disproportionately cited’’ by Seattle police for consuming pot in public during this time frame, as they only account for 8 percent of the city’s population yet received more than a third of the tickets.
According to The Seattle Times, Jokela had been on the force since 1990 and was working as a bike officer in downtown Seattle and Queen Anne.
Washington voters approved marijuana for recreational use in 2012, but the Seattle City Council regulates its public use. They passed an ordinance last year that makes public use of marijuana similar to public drinking. Officers are supposed to first issue warnings before issuing citations that carry $27 fines. Seattle Police also monitors enforcement by age, race, sex and locations of any citations, so that the City Council can evaluate whether the law is being enforced fairly.