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IMPD Chief, FOP: Continue enforcing state marijuana laws

Posted: 5:25 PM, Sep 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-30 20:58:37-04
Michigan legalizes recreational marijuana

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Bryan Roach says officers will continue to enforce state marijuana possession laws until further notice.

In a statement, Indianapolis FOP President Rick Snyder says it is the FOP's understanding Roach told officers to continue enforcing the state laws as they attempt "to better understand the basis for this decision and any potential unintended outcomes."

The statement comes just hours after Interim Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said they will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession cases.

The two statements don’t necessarily conflict with each other. As Mears said, it’s up to the prosecutor’s office to charge people, not make arrests.

But there could be a conflict with the messaging within the criminal justice system of the county.

Mears made multiple statements Monday about how the new policy would result in more positive engagements between police departments and the community.

“When we go out there to work on these homicide cases – to try and solve these unsolved homicide cases or nonfatal shootings, this level of trust will help make people come forward with information and evidence so we can put ourselves in a better position to solve these crimes,” Mears said.

He said the policy change could even lead to safer policing.

“I think too many times we see people end up with vehicular resist or car chases because they have marijuana inside the vehicle,” Mears said. “A lot of times people, when they get pulled over with marijuana in the car, look to hide the marijuana or destroy the marijuana, or do something to conceal it, which obviously puts the officer on high alert. When they’re approaching the car, maybe they’re thinking, ‘Maybe they’re reaching for a gun,’ as opposed to trying to get rid of the marijuana. Hopefully this will improve law enforcement’s interactions with people in the community, knowing that if it is just a little bit of marijuana, that person’s not going to jail.”

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You can read Snyder's full statement below:

Today we learned of the decision of the Acting Prosecutor to not prosecute misdemeanor violations of possession of marijuana in Marion County.

Our collective rank and file had no prior indication of this decision and we are trying to ascertain if others within the criminal justice community and city county government were aware of this move beforehand.

Such an across the board decision not only impacts our local community, but has implications for jurisdictions throughout our region and state.

While we recognize and value prosecutorial discretion, our law enforcement officers have significant concerns anytime a single person elects to unilaterally not enforce a state law as a matter of practice or policy.

We are attempting to better understand the basis for this decision and any potential unintended outcomes. In the interim, it is our understanding the IMPD Chief of Police has directed Officers to continue to enforce the laws as proscribed by the State of Indiana and we strongly concur.
Today we learned of the decision of the Acting Prosecutor to not prosecute misdemeanor violations of possession of marijuana in Marion County.

Our collective rank and file had no prior indication of this decision and we are trying to ascertain if others within the criminal justice community and city county government were aware of this move beforehand.

Such an across the board decision not only impacts our local community, but has implications for jurisdictions throughout our region and state.

While we recognize and value prosecutorial discretion, our law enforcement officers have significant concerns anytime a single person elects to unilaterally not enforce a state law as a matter of practice or policy.

We are attempting to better understand the basis for this decision and any potential unintended outcomes. In the interim, it is our understanding the IMPD Chief of Police has directed Officers to continue to enforce the laws as proscribed by the State of Indiana and we strongly concur.