SAN ANTONIO – It's been a long time coming, but on Friday, those responsible for law and order in Bexar County said they are ready to implement a unified Cite and Release program, which will operate out of the Bexar County Reentry Center.
"We've created a more streamlined process," said Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales.
Program guidelines allow a police officer to issue a citation, rather than arrest someone who is accused of committing a low-level offense.
Qualifying offenses include possessing small amounts of marijuana, petty thefts and driving without a valid license.
Ten days after receiving the citation, the accused offender can go to the Reentry Center.
If the accused offender is accepted into the program, he or she must complete a redirection course that addresses their offense. If successfully completed within 60 days, the case goes away. Otherwise, it's prosecuted.
The program is designed to keep officers from being tied up with booking suspects for certain nonviolent crimes.
"It will give officers more time to spend on the street," said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
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Officials said the Cite and Release program will also give people accused of minor offenses a chance to change.
But one man expressed concern over officers having the discretion to cite and release someone or arrest them as they see fit.
"They target minorities. I think it should be, stick to one side. If you have weed on you, it should just be a ticket," said Taron Jackson, of San Antonio.
Officials said they will be keep track of the demographics of people allowed into the program as a way to hold officers accountable when using discretion.
Gonzales stressed that cite and release is a pilot program.
With lingering concerns about officers using discretion and CBD looking and smelling like marijuana, only time will tell how successful the program will be.