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SMPD to present data on diversion cases

Department uses street diversion to avoid arrest for certain marijuana cases
Thursday, October 3, 2019

San Marcos Assistant Chief of Police Brandon Winkenwerder acknowledged that the police department’s informal process of street diversion will need to be formalized and tracked in the future. 

During a city council work session on Monday, Councilmemeber Mark Rockeymoore asked the San Marcos Police Department for an update on cite and release within the city and whether the department is moving towards cite and divert.

Winkenwerder said he and interim SMPD chief Bob Klett had a meeting with patrol sergeants last week and asked them to step up the use of the cite and release program available to the San Marcos Police Department. Cite and release is provided for under state law, which allows peace officers to issue citations for Class C misdemeanors, as well as certain Class A and Class B misdemeanors, instead of making an arrest. 

Winkenwerder noted that Klett intends to present data this Thursday, expected at San Marcos’ criminal justice reform committee, regarding the number of possession of marijuna cases (POM) that are street diverted to a possession of drug paraphernalia charge (PODP). 

“For the last week, three of us have been digging through all of our PODP citations looking at the videos and seeing how many of those were actually POM cases that were street levelly diverted to a lower offense to keep people out of jail,” Winkenwerder said. “We’re only through six or eight months of (2018) and six or eight months of (2019) but its running probably around 40 or 50% of those are diversions.” 

Winkenwerder said the informal process of street diversion will need to be formalized and tracked in the future. 

“Everyone recognizes that at some point possession of marijuana is probably going to be done away with or further decriminalized down to a class C misdemeanor,” he said. “And we’ve known that probably for about five or six years because this has probably been going on for longer than that.”

Rockeymoore asked the assistant chief if factors such as race are included in the data. 

Winkenwerder said race is being considered in addition to the number of cases being diverted to a lower-level offense. 

“(Officers are) actually diverting people out of jail and they’ve been doing this for years, we just don't have it formalized and we have no way to show the numbers, but were going to try to show the numbers Thursday, at least as much as we can for several months,” Winkenwerder said. 

San Marcos Record

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