Seattle police officer back on patrol after pot ticket controversy
A Seattle police officer at the center of a controversial pot ticket debacle has been returned to patrol, KIRO Radio has learned.
Randy “Joker” Jokela, a West Precinct bicycle officer with 24 years on the force, was busy patrolling the Pioneer Square neighborhood Monday following several weeks of desk duty.
Jokela was reassigned following a report that revealed he issued almost 80 percent of all citations given to individuals caught smoking marijuana in public.
According to numbers released by the Seattle Police Department, Jokela wrote 66 of 83 pot citations issued citywide in the first six months of the year.
While Jokela was within his authority to issue the citations, questions were raised about the number of tickets he wrote and whether he issued them to a disproportionate number of blacks and the homeless.
According to a department report, almost half of all those fined were homeless or lived in some sort of transitional housing. Thirty-seven percent of those given citations were black, compared to U.S. census data that shows only 8% of the city’s entire population is black.
Also of concern were notes that Jokela wrote on some of the citations.
According to the department, he called new marijuana laws “silly” and referred to the city’s elected prosecutor, Peter Holmes, as “Petey Holmes.”
Holmes was a leading advocate of I-502, which legalized recreational marijuana use. He also supported the city ordinance that allows officers to issue a $27 fine to those caught smoking or consuming pot in public.
Given the findings, the Office of Professional Accountability launched an investigation into Jokela’s actions and Chief Kathleen O’Toole removed him from patrol duties.
A Seattle PD spokesperson Monday said Chief O’Toole and OPA Director Pierce Murphy decided it would be prudent to return Jokela to patrol while the investigation into his conduct continues.