Pot arrests in Pullman are triple than Spokane

PULLMAN — Police in Pullman arrest people for misdemeanor marijuana possession at nearly triple the rate of similar arrests in much-larger Spokane, The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported Tuesday.

The issue has drawn attention after three members of the Washington State basketball team were cited for marijuana possession this season.

Last year, Pullman police made 104 arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession, a rate of about three per 1,000 residents of the college town. In Spokane, there were 221 people arrested for marijuana possession, a rate of just one per 1,000 residents, the newspaper found.

“The problem is the athletes are the ones that make the news. No one cares about the ones in marketing who get busted,” said police commander Chris Tennant.

Pullman officers appear to be ramping up their marijuana arrests this year. They had made 43 such arrests in 2011, compared with 53 in Spokane, which has seven times the population.

Pullman has just under 30,000 residents and, historically, half are under 24 years old. Spokane has more than 208,000 residents.

Washington State athletic director Bill Moos has met with Pullman police on the issue but doesn’t believe police are focusing on WSU athletes.

Derrick Skaug, who serves on the WSU student body association, said he’s not surprised at the number of arrests.

“In Pullman, I would say that typically the students are more of the ones who commit the crimes,” he said. “The student population tends to take more part in the nightlife.”

Pullman police spend little time on the WSU campus, which has its own police force, Tennant said. But city officers have regular patrols on College Hill, the off-campus location of Greek row.

“We patrol that heavily,” Tennant said. “On busy weekends, we’re on foot patrol, too. By making a presence known we can prevent fights and deal with intoxication.”

“Most of the crime in Pullman is committed on College Hill, but again, the vast majority of the population lives on College Hill,” Tennant said.

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