Plano Chief of Police Ed Drain sent memos to officers informing them of special orders restricting custodial arrests for Class B marijuana possession, the Plano Police Department confirmed in a press release Thursday.
The department’s public information officer David Tilley also confirmed in a Friday email to Star Local Media that custodial arrests for certain Class C misdemeanors will require supervisor approval.
These orders come with caveats.
While officers are no longer permitted to make arrests solely for possession of marijuana, they are allowed to do so in the event that a suspect is concurrently being charged with a firearm-related offense. Moreover, officers may issue citations for possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class C misdemeanor.
“With this policy change, offenders are still held accountable for small amounts of marijuana, except the accountability has changed from the county courts to the municipal courts,” the Thursday statement read.
Should a defendant get prosecuted for possession of marijuana, the drug must first be tested to determine if there is a presence of THC content, the release continued. This is due to a 2019 Texas law effectively legalizing the sale and consumption of all cannabis containing the psychoactive ingredient CBD.
“This process started back in November of last year, and it happened to be coincidental that the Marvin Scott III incident happened [in conjunction with the March 29 policy],” Tilley said. As such, no further comment on the new misdemeanor drug policy beyond the press release was provided “as to not influence or create any issues with [the Texas Rangers’ and Collin County Sheriff’s Office’s] investigation.”
Tilley did, however, confirm the implementation of a new policy requiring supervisor approval before conducting certain Class C misdemeanor arrests. “One of the things we do is review policies and procedures on a regular basis, and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) also checks to make sure we meet all their rigorous standards,” he added.
This new order followed a review of the Feb. 16 arrest of Rodney Reese, a Black teenager from Plano who was arrested on one count of pedestrian on roadway, a Class C misdemeanor. Conducted during a welfare check, this arrest attracted national uproar from civil rights organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union.
Reese, 18, was released on personal bond the morning following his arrest, and Drain announced that the department would drop all charges since “the arrest wasn’t consistent with the reason officers were there, to provide assistance.”
The welfare check was initially conducted after a bystander saw Reese walking home from work while wearing a short-sleeve shirt during Winter Storm Uri. Body camera footage showed that Reese repeatedly declined assistance from officers and said, “I understand that; my bad” after being told he was walking in the middle of a roadway.
"When we have an incident such as the Reese incident happen, we go back and review to see if there are any changes we need to make that might be a better practice to implement," Tilley said. "This policy was implemented after a review of that case."