Pharr, Texas (KVEO)—The Pharr Police Department will be implementing a new cite-and-release policy, which allows officers an option to release a person in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana.
According to the city, the department decided to adopt this policy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and implement it department-wide to minimize the number of individuals being jailed for certain low-level misdemeanor offenses, in this case, possession of less than two ounces of pot, a Class B misdemeanor.
There are prerequisites to this option, and includes the following:
- The offense must be possession of marijuana. The marijuana must weigh less than two (2) ounces, Misdemeanor B.
- The offense must occur in Pharr, Texas
- The suspect must reside in Hidalgo County, Texas.
- The suspect must be in possession of a valid driver’s license or identification.
- The suspect must be 17 years of age or older.
- Possession of marijuana must be the only offense in which the suspect is subject to arrest.
Officers will have the discretion to arrest or release at the scene. This policy simply gives them another alternative. If released, the person will still have to be arraigned in municipal court within 14 days of the incident and will be released on bond.
“This gives our officers a reasonable alternative to an arrest at the scene if the requirements are met,” said Pharr Police Chief Andy Harvey. “I believe this is another step in our efforts to police in a manner that adds value to community.”
“It’s important to note that this policy does not decriminalize anything, rather can provide a more dignified option for a low-level offense,” Harvey added. “We are partnering with the Hidalgo County DA’s office and our own municipal judge to make this possible. These are critical partnerships that when working together, can make a difference in our communities.”
Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez stated, “Our office supports the efforts of the Pharr Police Department, and any other law enforcement agency, to implement this policy as allowable by state law.” He continued, “It is important that our community understand that the offense is not excusable and is still punishable by law, but this adds a level of flexibility to reduce our jail population.”