Ailsa Chang, the WNYC reporter who broke the recent New York Police Department marijuana arrests story, blogged about comments by Commissioner Ray Kelly at a news conference this week explaining why he issued the order to his officers:
"Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says he had heard multiple allegations that his officers were skirting the law when charging people for misdemeanor marijuana possession — but he says he doesn't know if they are true."
I suppose "multiple allegations" is one of way describing the in-depth report published on the topic in 2008, the report on the fiscal costs of the arrests published this year, or the extensive discussion of the arrests that's taken place in the media for much of this year. Oh, let's not forget the bill filed this year in Albany for the specific purpose of stopping such arrests.
Of course the nearly 12-fold sudden increase in the number of marijuana possession arrests was no tip-off that anything was up:
And to be fair, the New York Times didn't call for a federal Dept. of Justice investigation of the arrests until last Monday, after Kelly issued the order, so that doesn't count. (But it's a good idea.)
No, there's no reason why the nearly ten-year commissioner of the department, who had been commissioner for another two years prior to that, and who has worked in important positions in the department for a total of more than 30 years, could have known to look into this before now. There was no reason to suspect anything may have been amiss until an "allegation was made" recently. None at all -- he had no way to know! I believe him -- I really do.