By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Arrests are down in Philadelphia and the police department attributes the drop to the city’s new pot decriminalization law, as well as a court diversion program in city schools.READ MORE: Company Says Planned Natural Gas Pipeline From Pennsylvania To New Jersey Won't Go Forward
Police Department spokesman Lt. John Stanford says arrests fell 16-percent in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period last year.
He attributes this to two factors: first, the new city law that makes possession of small amounts of marijuana a non-criminal offense.
“Its simple mathematics. If you’re not arresting the folks, you’re going to see a decrease in the amount of arrests that you have.” says Stanford. “But they’re being cited now – possession is still being addressed, but just from a citation standpoint.”READ MORE: Red Cross Dealing With Emergency Shortages In Blood Inventory Due To People Working, COVID Surges
The second factor leading to the decline, says Stanford, is a new diversion program in schools:
“We stopped the process of arresting some of our young people for first-time offenses, things not of a violent nature, but some of those lower-level offenses in some of our schools.”MORE NEWS: 'I'm Angry, I'm Frustrated': City Leaders React As Philadelphia Surpasses 400 Homicides In 2021
The pot decriminalization law — authored by former city councilman Jim Kenney, now the Democratic mayoral nominee — took effect at the end of 2014. Officers issue citations and seize the pot, but the offender does not face a criminal record.