Latest in a series of posts about the Southside
Say, didn’t I just see all of you in line in front of me at Weiss market an hour or so ago?
We posted earlier about the differential in the heavy way Bethlehem police are charging residents and the lighter way Lehigh Police are charging students in front of southside judge Nancy Matos Gonzalez, a serious question, said the judge, of her ability to dispense justice equitably.
In other words, in this judge’s experience the Bethlehem Police were not very often utilizing the lesser charge option made possible by the ordinance.
And it makes you wonder if Bethlehem police practice is undermining the intent of the recent ordinance decriminalizing the use of small amounts of marijuana, as well as wonder if the ordinance is applied differently in other parts of the city.
At Council January 2, the Mayor reported that the Police Chief will be meeting with the new Northampton County District Attorney Houck about his views on our new ordinance. Remember that the decriminalizing ordinance was not effective in the Lehigh County parts of Bethlehem because the Lehigh County D.A. ruled that Federal law still uniformly applies there. The former Northampton County D.A. ok’d the option for the police to decide whether to make the offense a heavy (Federal) or light (City) charge.
The Mayor’s response seems solely aimed at the question of how the marijuana law is functioning in the context of the split county jurisdiction in our town.
But that’s not the same question as how the police option to bring a light or a heavy charge is working.
Councilman Reynolds’ request to Council seems have the necessary breadth.
Reynolds’ request for a Public Safety meeting on the issue will be communicated to Council for action at next Tuesday’s meeting.