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August 18, 2014 at 3:30 PM

SPD officer who wrote 80 percent of pot tickets returns to patrol

A Seattle police bicycle officer who was reassigned after it was learned he had written 80 percent of the tickets for using marijuana in public this year has returned to his regular assignment, Seattle police said Monday afternoon.

However, police continue to investigate the conduct of Officer Randy Jokela, who in some marijuana citations referred to City Attorney Pete Holmes, a strong advocate of pot legalization, as “Petey Holmes.” In addition, Jokela indicated on one citation that he used a coin toss in one instance to decide who would be cited.

Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said that Pierce Murphy, the director of the department’s Office of Professional Accountability, and Chief Kathleen O’Toole “conferred and ultimately decided that there was nothing that precludes this employee from returning to his normal duties.”

Seattle police did not name the officer, but he was identified by department sources as Jokela, who joined the department in 1990. The officer wrote 66 of 83 tickets during the first half of the year, O’Toole said in a statement posted on the department’s news website.

In some cases, the officer added a notation requesting the attention of “Petey Holmes,” the statement said.

Holmes was a vocal supporter of Initiative 502, which legalized pot in 2012 after the ballot measure was approved by voters.

Tickets for public use of marijuana, which is barred under the law, are filed directly by officers in Seattle Municipal Court, not by Holmes’ office. If a ticket is contested, an infractions attorney from his office becomes involved, according to office spokeswoman Kimberly Mills.

Holmes was a sponsor of a city ordinance passed last year that gave police the authority to write $27 tickets for using pot in public.

O’Toole said the matter came to the attention of department staff while reviewing data captured for its recently released first semiannual report on marijuana enforcement.

Jokela, 52, is assigned as a bicycle officer in the West Precinct, which includes the downtown business district, the Chinatown International District, Queen Anne, South Lake Union and other neighborhoods.

Jokela was named co-officer of the year for the West Precinct in 2005.

In addition to the coin flip, the officer referred on one ticket to the voter-enacted changes in marijuana laws as “silly,” O’Toole’s statement said. A PDF of the citations can be viewed here.

The matter is being investigated by the Office of Professional Accountability, which conducts internal investigations.

A law enforcement source said Jokela’s return to bicycle patrol was timed to come after last weekend’s Hempfest.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: marijuana, Seattle Police Department, Seattle Police Officers' Guild

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