Cite-and-Release in (Almost Full) Effect

Just more than 15 months after it became law, APD finally begins cite-and-release program

Chief Ace
Chief Ace (by Photo by Jana Birchum)

On Feb. 22, the Austin Police Department began implementing the so-called cite-and-release law, which authorizes police to forgo arresting individuals for certain misdemeanor offenses. The law does not decriminalize any of the offenses – among them, possession of small amounts of marijuana – but allows an officer, under specific conditions, to decline to book a person into jail for initial processing, thereby saving time, money, and police manpower. The law does not eliminate the possibility of eventual jail time for the Class A and B offenses covered – if convicted, a defendant could still get six months in jail for a class B offense, or up to a year for class A. “Organizational efficiency and the prioritization of resource use is critical, especially during tough economic times,” said APD Chief Art Acevedo. “We believe this process will free up our limited resources and enable our officers to focus on more serious crimes.”

APD will implement the policy, codified by lawmakers in 2007, in both Hays and Travis counties. The Travis Co. Sheriff’s Office – whose top cop, Sheriff Greg Hamilton, along with County Attorney David Escamilla, helped lawmakers write the law in 2007 – has been using the option since the end of 2007. They say it has been a good way to keep deputies in the field. Notably, Williamson Co., into which a small portion of the city stretches, is not yet on board with the program, though Acevedo said he hopes their county attorney, Jana Duty, will eventually agree to implement the cost-saving measure. (Williamson Co. District Attorney John Bradley has been outspoken against the cite-and-release program. Sources say it’s Bradley’s attitude that is holding up program implementation there, even though his primary duty is to prosecute felony crimes, not the misdemeanors covered by the cite-and-release law.) Read more on the program here.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Police
Chief Acevedo Responds to Dallas Sniper Attack
Chief Acevedo Responds to Dallas Sniper Attack
APD will be at 100% staffing patrol through August

Kahron Spearman, July 8, 2016

Trial Begins in Heroin-Trafficking Case
Trial Begins in Heroin-Trafficking Case
Was Jovita's a hub for drug dealing?

Jordan Smith, Feb. 11, 2013

More Marijuana
Travis County to Reject Marijuana Prosecutions
Travis County to Reject Marijuana Prosecutions
Officers can't legally determine what is weed and what is hemp

Kevin Curtin, July 3, 2019

Fill a Bowl for Stickland
Fill a Bowl for Stickland
State rep's stoner past comes out in primary

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 30, 2015

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Police, Art Acevedo, APD, TCSO, Greg Hamilton, cite-and-release, marijuana

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle