By Alfa · Dec 2, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    Don't let pot smokers off with just a ticket, a group of sergeants is urging Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline.

    In September, Mayor Daley embraced the idea of raising money for city coffers by having cops write tickets for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    "It's decriminalized now," Daley said when asked about research showing 94 percent of Chicago Police arrests involving less than 2.5 grams of pot were dismissed in 2003.

    After Daley made his controversial remarks, a group of sergeants was assigned to study the issue. They unveiled their report to Cline and his commanders earlier this month.

    They recommended that officers continue making arrests for small amounts of pot, instead of handing out parking-style tickets, Cline said.

    'Better bang for our buck'

    Still, the department needs to prevent officers from spending up to two hours at police stations processing such misdemeanor marijuana arrests, the sergeants said.

    "The big issue is how do we get a better bang for our buck," Cline said.

    The sergeants, whose study was part of a training exercise to groom them for promotion, suggested that officers fill out their arrest and evidence reports in their squad cars -- using computerized forms -- instead of doing the paperwork in the station, Cline said.

    Police squadrols could transport the offenders to the station, keeping the arresting officers on the street, the study said.

    Cline called the sergeants' recommendations a "pretty good option."

    Fewer dismissals

    The Chicago Police Department also is working with prosecutors and the courts to lower the percentage of marijuana cases that are dismissed.

    "What bothered everybody is that these cases were being dropped,"

    Cline said.

    Tom Donegan, another Chicago Police sergeant, launched the discussion over marijuana arrests in September with a proposal he sent to Cline and other commanders.

    Donegan, fed up with seeing pot arrests evaporate in court, claimed the city could have raised $5 million in 2003 by fining people for possession of less than 30 grams of pot.

    Donegan was not part of the group that presented the recommendations to Cline this month.

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