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Fed Up with Public Drinking Cases, Brooklyn Judge Rules Sniff Test Won’t Pass Muster

Posted Jun 15, 2012 7:55 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Brooklyn judge on Thursday dismissed a public drinking case and issued a decision warning that he will hold police to a higher standard in the future.

Judge Noach Dear said police are required under the city’s open container law to prove the suspect beverage contains an alcohol content higher than 0.5 percent. A laboratory test would supply the needed proof, he said, but simply smelling the drink isn’t sufficient. The New York Times covers the decision and the new “highly impractical standard.”

New York police issued nearly 125,000 summonses last year for drinking in public, the story says. Dear asked his staffers to review Brooklyn drinking summonses for one month and found that 85 percent were issued to blacks and Latinos. Only 4 percent went to whites, who make up about 36 percent of Brooklyn’s population.

“I am hereby recommending that the practices and policies of the N.Y.P.D. with respect to enforcement of the open container law be scrutinized and immediately stopped if found to be discriminatory,” he wrote.

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