Adopted policy allows officers to cite and release a person in possession of less than 2 oz. of marijuana, as allowable by state law
TEXAS: The City of Pharr Police Department will be implementing a new Cite-and-Release policy, which allows officers in the field an option to release a person with less than 2 oz of marijuana. This is a Class B misdemeanor where normally a person is arrested at the scene and transported to jail.
The policy adopted by the Pharr Police Department is governed by Article 14.06 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, enacted as HB 2391 by the 80th Texas State Legislature in 2007, and allows for law enforcement officers to cite and release individuals who commit certain offenses. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pharr Police Department decided to adopt the “Cite and Release” policy and implement it department-wide to minimize the number of individuals being jailed for certain low-level misdemeanor offenses, in this case, possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana, Misdemeanor B.
There are prerequisites to this option, and include the following:
1. The offense must be possession of marijuana. The marijuana must weigh less than two (2) ounces, Misdemeanor B.
2. The offense must occur in Pharr, Texas
3. The suspect must reside in Hidalgo County, Texas.
4. The suspect must be in possession of a valid driver’s license or identification.
5. The suspect must be 17 years of age or older.
6. Possession of marijuana must be the only offense in which the suspect is subject to arrest.
Officers will have the discretion to arrest or release at the scene. This policy simply gives them another alternative. If released, the person will still have to be arraigned at our municipal court within 14 days of the incident and will be released on a PR bond. The Possession of Marijuana Class B case will still be completed by our detectives and sent to the District Attorney’s office as any other case.
“This gives our officers a reasonable alternative to an arrest at the scene if the requirements are met,” said Pharr Police Chief Andy Harvey. “I believe this is another step in our efforts to police in a manner that adds value to community,” he continued.
“It’s important to note that this policy does not decriminalize anything, rather can provide a more dignified option for a low-level offense,” Harvey added. “We are partnering with the Hidalgo County DA’s office and our own municipal judge to make this possible. These are critical partnerships that when working together, can make a difference in our communities,” continued Harvey.
Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez stated, “Our office supports the efforts of the Pharr Police Department, and any other law enforcement agency, to implement this policy as allowable by state law.” He continued, “It is important that our community understand that the offense is not excusable and is still punishable by law, but this adds a level of flexibility to reduce our jail population.”
Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., praised the leadership of Chief Harvey for implementing smart policing strategies as allowable under state law that will help provide fair alternatives for low-level offenses. “The offenders will still be held responsible for the offenses committed, but this will help to expedite justice in a fair and responsive manner,” Hernandez ended.
The new Cite-and-Release policy will begin implementation this week.