What do the police do to prepare for the "pot holiday" 420?
April 19, 2010 9:54 PM   Subscribe

If anything, what do the police do to prepare for what (I imagine) is a whole lot more criminal activity in one day.

This is directed mainly towards people who are (or have been) in law enforcement. Does the captain make a speech about what 4/20 is going to bring? What do the cops say to one another about what is happening?

I'm looking for different reactions, I'm sure some look at the day as free reign to rattle up some hippies, and others are ambivalent. I'm just curious about the specifics.
posted by ejfox to Law & Government (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I recall seeing an article and links (perhaps posted to the blue) a few years ago about a campus PD that photographed students having a 420 party - they were giving rewards to people who identified students who had been photographed participating.
posted by sanko at 10:00 PM on April 19, 2010




It is my experience that 4/20 is normally just another day. I did not (currently deployed overseas with the military, however will be returning to the same dept.) work in a community with a college/university, so that may have a lot to do with it. My experience is that marijuana users just don't come out of the woodwork and toke up out in public view just because it is April 20th. I also do not believe that the number of users increases on this particular day.

I imagine campus police and communites with colleges/universities have different experiences than I do. How they handle things depends on department policy, as well as what the prosecutors will take for cases.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 3:02 AM on April 20, 2010


I work in a college town. 4/20 is not a big deal, we don't do anything special for it.

Big days for us are things like Halloween, 4th of July, New Years, or big sports events that draw a lot of people, etc. On days like that there is generally a big meeting, different people are assigned to specific areas or duties, a clear command and communication plan is explained to everyone. We may call in extra staff from surrounding departments to help out if we think there is going to be more than we can handle on our own.

But yeah, we generally don't do anything special for 4/20, and I haven't really noticed any kind of spike in calls on 4/20 in the past 5 years or so I have been working.
posted by Menthol at 4:08 AM on April 20, 2010


a whole lot more criminal activity in one day.

I would question this. IANAPH, but everyone I ever knew who made any kind of deal out of 4/20 1) was the kind of person who was getting stupid baked on a near-daily basis anyway 2) didn't really do anything beyond holing up in someone's room/apt/house with a coupla eighths and video games.
posted by PMdixon at 4:26 AM on April 20, 2010


I ask because I figure if there were a national day for jaywalking, or for being drunk in public, I'd think the police would want to have a special presence to dissuade people from taking part.

For example, should a person smoking rolled cigarettes be more cautious today?
posted by ejfox at 4:58 AM on April 20, 2010


For example, should a person smoking rolled cigarettes be more cautious today?

Um, even if the police did contact you, it would just be a rolled cigarette. They'd probably come up, take one whiff, and keep walking.
posted by Menthol at 5:55 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I ask because I figure if there were a national day for jaywalking, or for being drunk in public, I'd think the police would want to have a special presence to dissuade people from taking part.

I think that the issue here is that pot-smoking on 4/20 is different from jaywalking or public drinking in important ways. Massive amounts of jaywalking or public drinking are likely to require police presence to maintain public order and minimize, say, people getting hit by cars. Menthol's examples of holidays that do require extra preparation (New Years, July 4th, Halloween) are all days when there are likely to be large, unorganized, and potentially disruptive or inadvertently dangerous gatherings. As PMdixon indicated above, however, on 4/20 most pot-smoking will be kept indoors. This has as much to do with its legal status as the psychological effects it tends to have on users. The exception, of course, as indicated above, is university towns where you might have a critical mass of pot smokers who want to transgress in public on their big holiday.

The last part of your sentence- that the police would want to have a special presence to dissuade the public from smoking- perhaps speaks to the central issue at hand. The responses so far indicate that the police only need to increase presence in response to public disorder which might have adverse effects on people's health, safety, and interests. You seem to indicate that the police ought to actively dissuade people from using drugs in their homes. Those are very different visions of how the police ought to respond to people's celebratory activities.
posted by farishta at 6:43 AM on April 20, 2010


The exception, of course, as indicated above, is university towns where you might have a critical mass of pot smokers who want to transgress in public on their big holiday.

At my college, maybe a hundred or so students would gather in one of the outdoor hangout spots and light up at 4:20 pm. Campus police just looked the other way (I know this because I, um, watched from a distance? Yeah, that's it.).
posted by oinopaponton at 7:08 AM on April 20, 2010


a whole lot more criminal activity in one day.

When the worst criminal activity is some murdered bags of chips and jam band music I don't think they break out the riot gear.
posted by anti social order at 7:13 AM on April 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


(obviously campus police != real police, but they seemed to know what was up, and didn't want to waste time rounding up kids who weren't putting themselves or others in danger. Real cops probably react differently, but city police didn't have jurisdiction on my campus. I'd guess that public smoking is probably restricted to college campuses; otherwise, people probably just stay inside as others have said.)
posted by oinopaponton at 7:15 AM on April 20, 2010


Here's some information about how Arcata, CA ("Pot City, USA") plans on handling today's smokeout.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:23 AM on April 20, 2010


I'm in Santa Cruz where today is a big day on campus. This place will be crawling with cops in a few hours but they will not arrest a single person for possession. They don't care. They just don't want any damage to property, traffic disruption or other incidents from happening.

Last year I saw several kids lighting up in plain sight of an officer while I was driving out. Cop and I looked at each other and just smiled.
posted by special-k at 10:22 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


oinopaponton: It's not fair to refer to campus police as not "real cops." If they call themselves police, as opposed to security, then they are almost certainly sworn law enforcement officers with the same powers as a city cop.
posted by indyz at 11:10 AM on April 20, 2010


Yeah, sloppy, no offense meant-- I mean that they follow a different protocol than police paid by the city. At my campus, they had an arrangement with the local PD that meant that campus police would handle any incidents on campus. In practice, it meant that students caught for minor crimes (underage drinking, possession of small amounts of weed) would face university disciplinary actions rather than the full brunt of the law.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2010


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