A veteran Seattle cop decided to determine the law for himself, instead of just enforcing it, as uncovered in a recent internal investigation by Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. Of 83 pot-smoking tickets handed out this past year, officer Randy Jokela handed out 66 of them, many with a derogatory naming of ‘Petey Holmes,’ the legalized marijuana-supporting City Attorney, Pete Holmes, attached to his citations.
Chief O’Toole accidentally stumbled on this embarrassment when her staff was working to compile data for Seattle’s first semiannual report on marijuana enforcement. Her research department discovered that Jokela was writing an enormous number of tickets. He was likely discriminating against marijuana users, since the city council had strongly urged the police force to only hand out ‘warnings’ for public smoking and not actual tickets. Marijuana is legal in Seattle and throughout Washington state with the passing of Initiative 502, but it cannot be consumed publicly in the city.
“In another instance, the officer indicated he flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to cite,” said O’Toole in statement released on the city’s website. “In another note, the officer refers to Washington’s voter-enacted changes to marijuana laws as ‘silly.’”
A city ordinance, sponsored by City Attorney Pete Holmes, was passed last year that gives police the right to issue $27 citations to anyone caught committing this offense. Yet, immediately after the ordinance was passed, the City Council urged officers only to issue warnings.
While the blatant issuance of copious tickets to marijuana users is ridiculous, it is also part of the city’s responsibilities to make sure that corrupt cops cannot decide to do exactly what Jokela took it upon himself to do – the city ordinance gave him the wiggle room to target marijuana users.
All Jokela’s tickets were also directly filed with the Seattle Municipal Court, not with the City Attorney’s office, which likely means that officer Jokela’s written remarks on the back of citations were meant as snarky commentary for City Attorney Holmes’ pot-friendly politics.
Holmes is happy that Police Chief O’Toole is investigating the questionable actions of officer Jokela, who has since been given a desk job until a full investigation can be conducted.
“The comments and their propriety speak for themselves. This is an indication of the state of discipline that she has inherited,” he said.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.