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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — On Wednesday, members of the Huntsville City Council met with Huntsville Police and county judges in a work session to discuss efforts to prevent arrests for misdemeanor possessions of marijuana. 

Recent data shows a record number of arrests in a five-year span. 

City councilmember Devyn Keith of District 1 completed his own comprehensive deep dive into the arrests in the City of Huntsville by police. Since 2017, the number of people arrested by Huntsville city police for marijuana possession is overwhelming of those in Keith’s district.

70% of those arrested are Black, although Blacks make up only 11% of the city’s population. Each arrest for misdemeanor possession of marijuana costs the taxpayers of Alabama a lot of money. 

“There are more people using recreational marijuana than that are being arrested,” Keith told News 19. “It is my subjective view to believe that those individuals who are arrested that make up 70 percent of those who are actually smoking recreational misdemeanor level marijuana in Huntsville is just not a reality.”

Dewayne McCarver, deputy chief of the Huntsville Police Department, agrees with Keith saying that there is a way to prevent more arrests.

“Our officers are out there everyday doing their jobs,” McCarver stated. “They’re stopping people and they’re making these arrests. We pull the statistics and we see what we see. We work hard to make sure that we police equally across this city.”

The mission of the session is to come up with solutions that all can agree on until marijuana possession laws are changed. Those in law enforcement as well as Madison County judges are hopeful to get their ideas on how to improve the disproportionate arrest numbers into the hands of legislators.  

“At the local level again this is to inform our colleagues of the process that needs to happen and getting their support for a resolution to actually send to the delegation,” said Keith. “We just want to be afforded options and opportunities that other cities have in our police department to support our police department.”

Keith plans to present ideas in the next Huntsville City Council session.