Round Rock participates in cite and release program
Round Rock has volunteered to be the first in Williamson County to implement a cite and release law passed by the Texas legislature in 2007.
Since May 1, 2017 Round Rock police officers have had the option of issuing a court summons rather than making an immediate arrest for several Class A and B misdemeanors, which include possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. Roughly 60,000 Texans are arrested for marijuana possession each year.
Melissa Hightower, chief investigator for the county attorney’s office, said the county chose not to implement the program at the time and instead “let other counties jump into it and take their lessons learned” according to statements to the Statesman.
“For the most part, these are lower-level crimes,” she said. “People were being taken to jail. They were having to post bond or spend time in jail (before going to court). They could lose their job. Are these the offenses for which we want folks to suffer those consequences?
Hightower also noted stretched resources in local law enforcement. “Are these the folks we want to take up space in our jail?” she said. “You have that human element, and the element of saving the taxpayers’ dollars.”
She also spoke of the advantage of allowing police officers to continue on patrol rather than spend time processing an arrest and filling out paperwork, which could take up to two hours at times.
Round Rock Police Commander Robert Rosenbusch had said the program would help an understaffed department in a rapidly growing city.
Those issued a summons will report at a designated time to be fingerprinted and photographed, then released on a personal recognizance bond.
This does not change the penalty for possession of marijuana and other illegal activities.
If the program proves successful, it could expand to other agencies in the county, however according to Hightower, it will be up to each agency to decide.