27 people could benefit from 'cite and release' program each month

The program would give officers the option of using tickets instead of handcuffs for anyone accused of a low-level, non-violent offense. This could include those cited for possession of marijuana.

SAN ANTONIO - It's supposed to keep officers on the street longer and fewer people in jail.

San Antonio and Bexar County will soon roll out 'cite and release,' where officers will have the option to issue tickets instead of handcuffs to anyone accused of a low-level, non-violent offense.

Among the offenses covered under cite and release is possession of small amounts of marijuana.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said his officers spend about an hour and a half every time they handle a non-violent offense like possession of marijuana.

McManus said there will still be some time required under cite and release because his officers will have to take the drugs and process them into an evidence room. However, he says it will still get them out on the streets quicker than before because they'll avoid paperwork required to process an arrested person at the magistrate's office.

"I think it's a good thing all around," McManus said.

McManus told KENS 5 District Attorney Nico LaHood approached him about cite and release.

The more McManus heard, the more he liked it for one simple reason.

"Any time you can give officers more time on the street, I think that's beneficial," McManus said.

McManus said cite and release will not be a slap on the wrist for people caught with marijuana, because an officer can still arrest you.

"It gives officers the discretion to either write a citation or make an arrest," McManus said.

Cite and release has been touted as a solution to help ease crowding at the Bexar County Jail.

However, according to documents obtained by KENS 5, in 2017, only 27 people on average are behind bars at the Bexar County Jail on a charge or two of possession of marijuana.

The jail is almost at capacity with more than 4,400 people locked up.

McManus wouldn't speak about the number of those in jail and said his agency just makes the arrests or writes the citations.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, who runs the jail, sent KENS 5 the following statement Monday:

"I believe cite and release will help give a second chance to first time, non-violent, minor offenders. Putting someone like this into a jail system is not always the most effective way to change behavior."

No date has been set for the beginning of cite and release here in San Antonio.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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