RACINE — With questions lingering about the City Council’s directive ordering Racine Police officers to issue citations for first-time marijuana violations, the new state Attorney General has offered to weigh in.
A statement from Attorney General Josh Kaul’s communications team reads: “The Department of Justice will review any request for opinion that is submitted and provide guidance regarding the relevant laws.”
In an earlier statement to The Journal Times, Police Chief Art Howell said he would want input from the Attorney General’s Office before moving forward.
“If such an ordinance is eventually adopted, the Racine County District Attorney and the state attorney general will need to determine if such an a ordinance is in line with (and not less restrictive than) existing state statues,” Howell said. “Once the various process and policy questions are resolved, and clear direction is received from the attorney general, we will move forward as dictated by law.”
As of Friday, it was unclear whether the city or the Police Department had formally requested Kaul’s opinion and guidance.
Tate stands by directive
Alderman John Tate II of the 3rd District said he stands by the directive, which he put before the City Council, and pushed back against Howell’s statements that the council had exceeded its authority.
“I think the city attorney (Scott Letteney) was very astute in saying the Common Council or the mayor has the ability to issue a lawful order,” said Tate. “If there’s discussion about the lawfulness of it, let’s have that conversation. If its a discussion about whether an order was issued and whether compliance is expected, that’s not a debate.”
As for implementation, Tate said that will require greater transparency from law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office about how charging decisions are made.
“We need the cooperation to understand what’s happening within our system to find out why these discrepancies exist and why these disparities exist,” said Tate.
Overall, Tate said, the best way to resolve these issues and answer these questions is communication.
“If we want to keep talking about it, let’s meet together instead of being in the newspaper all the time,” said Tate. “Give me a call.”
“I think the city attorney (Scott Letteney) was very astute in saying the Common Council or the mayor has the ability to issue a lawful order. If there’s discussion about the lawfulness of it, let’s have that conversation.” Racine 3rd District Alderman John Tate II