A veteran cop with the Seattle Police Department was forced to take a desk job earlier this week, after an internal review found the officer responsible for writing nearly 80 percent of the city’s citations for public marijuana consumption.
Reports indicate that Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole was not at all pleased to learn that one of her officers, identified as Randy Jokela, single-handedly issued 66 of the 83 pot-smoking tickets during the first part of this year. To make things worse, some of the citations contained notes that blatantly disrespect City Attorney Pete Holmes, a vocal supporter of legalized marijuana, by referring to him as “Petey Holmes.”
The embarrassing situation was brought to O’Toole’s attention as members of her staff worked to compile data for the city’s first semiannual report on marijuana enforcement. Not only did the research department discover Jokela was writing more pot citations than the rest of the force, but some of the tickets provided evidence that suggested the cop was intentionally discriminating against marijuana users.
“In another instance, the officer indicated he flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to cite,” said O’Toole in a statement released on the city’s website. “In another note, the officer refers to Washington’s voter-enacted changes to marijuana laws as ‘silly.’”
Although marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Washington state with the passing of Initiative 502, it is still illegal to smoking marijuana in public. In Seattle, 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 to only issue warnings whenever possible.
Interestingly, all of these pot tickets are reportedly filed directly 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 those citations were meant as jabs at City Attorney Holmes’ pot-friendly politics.
As for Holmes, he is glad that Police Chief O’Toole is investigating the questionable actions of this officer. “The comments and their propriety speak for themselves. This is an indication of the state of discipline that she has inherited,” he said.
Officer Jokela has been reassigned pending an investigation, which is being conducted by the Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability.