The Seattle cop who issued most of the city’s weed citations has been reassigned


Toking in Seattle? Watch out for the bike cop. (David McNew/Reuters)

If you’ve received a ticket for public use of marijuana in Seattle this year, it was probably courtesy of one cop in particular.

A single Seattle Police Department officer issued nearly 80 percent of the city’s marijuana citations over a recent period, a department review found. That’s 66 of 83 tickets.

Police officials made the discovery while researching data for a report on marijuana enforcement, Chief Kathleen O’Toole wrote on the SPD Blotter. That report, which you can read here, also found that citations were disproportionately issued to the homeless as well as African Americans, who only account for 8 percent of the city’s population yet received more than a third of all citations this year.

But the SPD Blotter post focused on the officer who issued most of the department’s citations. Sometimes, O’Toole wrote, the officer — who she did not name — added notes to the tickets. In one note, he indicated that he flipped a coin to decide whether or not to issue the ticket. He wrote in another note that voter-approved changes to the state’s marijuana law were “silly.”

“Some notes requested the attention of City Attorney Peter Holmes and were addressed to ‘Petey Holmes,’” O’Toole wrote. Holmes was a proponent of legalizing marijuana and has gotten himself into trouble for bringing OG Pearl to his “drug-free workplace.”

The officer has been pulled off patrol and placed on desk duty while the department’s Office of Professional Accountability conducts an internal investigation, O’Toole said in her blog post.

On Thursday, a Seattle police spokesman declined to identify the officer, who is part of downtown Seattle’s mountain bike patrol. But the Seattle Times and local CBS affiliate KIRO 7 both reported his identity as Randy Jokela, who’s been with the department since 1990 and is known as “Joker” on the streets.

Washington voters approved recreational use of marijuana in 2012. Last year,the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance that made public use of marijuana comparable to public drinking. Officers are supposed to first issue warnings before a citation, which carry a $27 fine. The city also required the police department to monitor enforcement of the ordinance for at least two years, including how the law was being applied to people across racial and gender lines.

Elahe Izadi is a general assignment national reporter for The Washington Post.
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