Denver on 4/20 weekend: 130 arrests or citations, 22 jailed
Update below: Last week, Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson told us that officers would have a greater presence at the annual 4/20 event at Civic Center Park due both to the still-unsolved shooting that took place at last year's rally and laws against public consumption of marijuana. However, he pledged that officers would act with "discretion" during enforcement actions.
Photo by Brandon Marshall A photo from our 2014 People of the Cannabis Cup slide show.
How'd they do? Well, social media hasn't exploded with anger at the cops despite what appears to be a larger number of arrests and citations than in recent years: 130 over the course of the weekend. More details below.
Those observers who thought the 2013 shooting would keep people away from the Civic Center festivities this year were wrong. The crowds were healthy on Saturday, and our William Breathes describes the Sunday throng as the biggest he's seen at the annual gathering; keep an eye out for his full report.
Photo by Brandon Marshall A photo from the 4/20 rally in 2013 shortly after the still-unsolved shooting.
Despite warnings against public consumption, marijuana smoking was commonplace at the park, giving the DPD plenty of chances to issue citations. The cops certainly kept a close eye on what was happening, as is seen in this twitpic:
DENVER 4/20 EVENT: DPD Command Center watching activities in Civic Center Park. Please obey the law.... pic.twitter.com/IkhGK5e18D— Denver Police Dept (@DenverPolice) April 20, 2014
Meanwhile, the department's social media folks regularly shared arrest figures. This tweet covers the figures for Saturday....
DENVER 4/20 EVENT: Updated figures Sat. 32-citations/arrests (22 for consumption) 10 for other offenses.— Denver Police Dept (@DenverPolice) April 20, 2014
...while this one encompasses those on Sunday....
DENVER 4/20 EVENT: UPDATE SUN 63 citations / arrests (47- for consumption of marijuana) 12 were out of state.— Denver Police Dept (@DenverPolice) April 20, 2014
...and a third tweet provides a weekend total:
DENVER 4/20 EVENT: Weekend total 130 citations/arrests 92-for public consumption of marijuana, 20 were out of state, 22 went to jail.— Denver Police Dept (@DenverPolice) April 21, 2014
The figures appear to be considerably larger than they were in 2012, as momentum for legalization was building, and 2013, after Amendment 64 had been approved by voters -- although the crowds were bigger, too. We've reached out to the Denver police records office for previous arrest and citation totals; we'll update this post when and if the folks there get back to us.
Update: A short time ago, Mary Dulacki with the Denver Police Department records department sent us the following e-mail in response to our inquiry: "There were 5 'arrests' (individuals were actually issued citations and released) during the 2013 4/20 Rally. Four of the citations were issued for Public Consumption of Marijuana. The remaining individual was cited for traffic violations of Driving Under Revocation, No Operator's License and Expired Plates."
Denver police personnel are currently looking for 2012 statistics. If they get the data to us, we'll update this post again.
Via Twitter, however, the DPD suggests that these numbers are actually quite low in the context of the event as a whole:
@Rockymtnmommo - far less than 1%— Denver Police Dept (@DenverPolice) April 21, 2014
There was also this exchange, in which the department's rep made it clear that it's a loving agency, albeit one whose affection is conditional:
@medicalmaryjane - we love everyone (who obey the law).— Denver Police Dept (@DenverPolice) April 20, 2014
Meanwhile, the only YouTube video of police at Civic Center over the weekend that we've found thus far is this benign snippet of several cops lined up on bicycles:
By the way, the fine for the public consumption of marijuana is $150. Multiply that by 130 and the results won't come close to covering the cost of the police presence at the park. Then again, none of the arrests were for shooting anyone.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.