"In our ongoing research about marijuana possession arrests in New York,1, we have found that a basic misdemeanor arrest for marijuana possession in New York City varied from a minimum of two or three hours for one officer, to four or five hours or even longer for multiple officers. During this time the officers returned to the police station with the handcuffed arrestees and booked them; they took photographs and fingerprints, gathered other information and wrote it up. They sent the personal data to be checked against the state's criminal databases and often waited to receive the arrestees' criminal records, if the database searches found any. Arresting officers regularly took suspects to the central booking jail, were interviewed by assistant district attorneys, and appeared in court.

"For a very low and conservative estimate, we used two and a half hours as a minimum average amount of time one officer spends making a marijuana possession arrest. We multiplied 2.5 hours by the number of lowest-level marijuana possession arrests (charged under NYS Penal Law 221.10) for each year since 2002 when Mayor Bloomberg took office.

"The front cover of this report shows a graph with the number of marijuana arrests for each year from 2002 through 2012. In those eleven years the NYPD made a total of 439,056 possession-only arrests. Multiplied by two and a half hours of police time per arrest that equals 1,097,640 hours - or approximately one million hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana arrests. That is the equivalent of having 31 police officers working eight hours a day, 365 days a year, for 11 years, making only marijuana possession arrests."


Harry Levine, Loren Siegel, and Gabriel Sayegh, "One Million Police Hours: Making 440,000 Marijuana Possession Arrests in New York City, 2002-2012," Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Arrest Research Project, New York City, NY, March 2013.