Propositions to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Killeen, Harker Heights appear to be headed for passage
KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Voters in the Central Texas cities of Killeen and Harker Heights on Tuesday voted on Proposition A, a ballot measure that would decriminalize possession of less than four ounces of marijuana for personal use and not allow law enforcement officers to stop someone because they smelled the drug.
The ordinance would not legalize marijuana in the cities, but would merely prevent people from being arrested for having up to four ounces of the plant.
Wednesday morning, voters in Killeen in favor of the proposition were leading those against by a vote of 69% to 31%. In Harker Heights, voters in favor of the proposition were leading those against by a vote of 64% to 36%.
Killeen City Councilmember Jose Segarra voted against the proposition when it was proposed at a city council meeting. He told KWTX he did not disapprove of the decriminalization of marijuana, but the section inhibiting officers from searching based on probable cause.
“The real issue that I have with Prop A is they have a section in there, and basically, what that does, it prohibits our police officers from using the odor, the smell of marijuana as a probable cause to do a search,” the former mayor told KWTX in a recent interview.
Segarra argued that more than one thousand people who have been arrested for possessing marijuana in Killeen were also charged with other crimes. He said that 621 people that they stopped and searched based on probable cause of marijuana also had other illegal drugs, 269 people were also carrying unlawful weapons, 183 had outstanding warrants and 97 were carrying illegal weapons.
Louie Minor, who supported the proposition and created the Facebook page “Decriminalize Killeen” to share the information about the ballot proposal, argued it’s meant to protect young people and minorities by keeping them out of jail.
WATCH: LOUIE MINOR DISCUSSES PROPOSITION A WITH NEWS 10′S ALEX FULTON:
“I did the open records request and found that 92% of the marijuana arrests with the city of Killeen are people of color,” Minor explains.
Minor said those arrests stay on people’s records for possibly life and affect their abilities to get good jobs, good education or even housing.
KWTX spoke with a retired Army colonel who says that with Fort Hood adjacent to Killeen, passage of Proposition A could impact the Army post in a negative way.
“I do not believe this is a positive effort and I say that from this perspective, Fort Hood generates $28.9 billion dollars in economic output in Texas. Going forward, when the Department of Defense looks at places to station new missions, new units, or any future potential base realignment and closure actions, they evaluate bases on many criteria, and one of those is quality-of-life, and I don’t think that proposition will have a positive impact on that quality-of-life score,” said Keith Sledd, the executive director at the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance.
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