Indianapolis Police Chief Bryan Roach said in a press conference Tuesday officers will continue to arrest people who are found with marijuana in any amount.
The announcement comes one day after Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said his office would not press criminal charges against those found with less than one ounce of marijuana.
Roach argues police officers play a different role than prosecutors.
“I want to make sure the public still understands that it’s against the law and our officers will continue to act as they always have before this policy change,” Roach said. “If you are in possession of misdemeanor marijuana, it’s still against the law and you may still be arrested.”
Roach said the drug’s presence on the street often leads to violence. Discovering marijuana can also help officers uncover other crimes.
“I haven’t had a chance to look at all the data, but I think the number of misdemeanor arrests for marijuana when there’s not a companion charge are less than what we think,” Roach said.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said at the press conference he is committed to fair criminal justice reform and is open to conversations around how to change policies to “eliminate disparities wherever they exist.” But he said he hasn’t participated in conversations that would have directly affected the new stance taken by the prosecutor’s office.
“What I have not participated in is specific conversations surrounding any form of decriminalization of marijuana,” Hogsett said.
Mears said his office has dismissed about 80 percent of possession charges so far this year. He said in a separate press conference Monday the policy change will ensure prosecutors can work on combatting violent crimes.