Weeding out lower level offenders, EPD responds to critics over recent marijuana arrests

Weeding out lower level offenders, EPD responds to critics over recent marijuana arrests

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - There has been criticism over a pound of pot.  Evansville Police arrested two people at a Mary Street apartment Wednesday. But, when authorities announced the arrests, some critics questioned their tactics on social media.

EPD fired back, with a blunt message for critics of those recent marijuana arrests.

Just this past year, Evansville has seen a spike in violence, gun crimes, and murders. Police say many of those high-profile crimes link back to weed.

"We don't care what's in that baggy," EPD Sgt. Jason Cullum told 14 News. "If it's causing people to pull guns, to shoot at each other, and it's leading to people's death, what's in the bag makes no difference to us."

EPD says it's targeting some of the areas most violent criminals with its new "VIPER" Unit, and they're also looking to get a handle on violent crime by weeding out lower level offenders like marijuana dealers.

"A lot of the response was: it was just weed, and we're wasting our resources," Sgt. Cullum told us after looking through the comments on social media.

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Some social media users wrote on the Department's Facebook page saying crime would go down if lawmakers legalized marijuana. One person wrote, "no one has ever robbed a bank or killed anyone from smoking marijuana."

Killing over marijuana? That's exactly the problem, according to police. Sgt. Cullum told 14 News there were multiple murders last year linking back to drug deals involving pot: Donald Freels, Chris Hoefling, Michael Pardee.

Those are some of the lives lost in Evansville from marijuana deals.

Police say crime statistics show, it's not just a harmless drug.

"This social argument about marijuana and whether it should be legalized or taxed is a mute point to the Evansville Police Department," said Sgt. Cullum.

Below is Evansville Police Department's full statement posted on social media Wednesday:

It’s not just about the weed, it’s about the violence. In 2017, we had a record number of murders. We had 20 people...

Posted by Evansville Police Department on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Police say they're taking every kind of drug-related activity seriously, especially since 2017 turned out to be one of the deadliest years in Evansville's history.

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