U.P. reports nearly 400 percent increase marijuana arrests

There was a 386.4 percent increase of oncampus marijuana arrests in 2010. Oswego State’s University Police Department recorded 228 marijuana arrests last year., up from 59 made in 2009.

The months with the highest numbers of arrests were October, 63, September, 40 and November, 23. Most of the arrests were made on campus.

"The majority of the files are complaints from the resident house staff, traffic stops and controls of public areas on campus," U.P. Assistant Chief John Rossi said. "Over winter break there were some items found in rooms when residence hall staff did their checks. Most were items in violation of residence hall policy, some were contraband and confiscated by officers, but no one is facing criminal charges in those cases."

Residence Life and Housing works hard to make sure new staff notice any signs of marijuana possession within the residence halls.

"I can attribute some of the increase to the heightened awareness by residence hall staff. We do training with the GRMs [Graduate Resident Mentors] and RAs so they are trained in recognizing these types of problems," Rossi said.

Residence Life is prepared to handle any illegal activity within the campus community.

"Each semester during training the new staff spends about an hour with University Police," said Renee Landers Associate Director of Residence Life and Housing. "Our protocol that is supported by University Police Department is that if a staff member detects an odor of marijuana they are to contact [U.P.] and a police officer is dispatched and they verify the odor. The officer handles whatever he or she needs to as a law enforcement officerand it is referred to theCampus Judicial Office."

There were "four marijuana possession arrests in January 2011," according to Rossi. These arrests, however, will not be resolved in the near future.

"It takes several months for the numbers to go through the system. Many of those cases are still pending right now," Rossi said.

According to Rossi, U.P. does not report marijuana arrests on campus to the city police department, "but we do work with them and exchange information on a variety of matters when they involve both jurisdictions."

Oswego City Police Information Officer Michael Beckwith said, "The two most common criminal charges we deal with are unlawful possession of marijuana, which is for possessing a small amount of marijuana, and UPM [Unlawful Possession of Marijuana] in the fifth degree."

According to Beckwith, when a person is found possessing marijuana without any prior drug convictions they are released on an appearance ticket with a court date on it. "The fine cannot be for more than $200 or 15 days in jail."