SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Bexar County’s new cite and release program is now in effect.

Officers in San Antonio and Bexar County will be allowed to cite people caught with 4 ounces of marijuana or less  instead of arresting them and taking them to jail.  That also applies to individuals caught driving without a valid license and petty theft.

“It will give officers more time to spend on the street. There’s less time taken to write a citation than there is to process an arrest,” said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.

He notes that it’s up to the officer to decide whether to cite and release the individual.

“One of the non-negotiables for me starting this discussion was that officers must have full discretion. Officers did wind up with full discretion and the ability to either cite someone or make an arrest when necessary,” said McManus.

People who are cited and released will report to the Reentry Center where the Bexar County District Attorney’s staff will determine if the individual is eligible for the program.  There will be some requirements, such as attending a substance abuse program or performing community service.  If  the requirements are met, the case will go away. If not, the person will be prosecuted and the case will go on the individual’s record.

District Attorney Joe Gonzales says it gives people an opportunity to “turn their life around.” He also called it a “really great start’ to criminal justice reform in Bexar County.

Here’s a video from the San Antonio Police Department’s website explaining the offenses in the city and release program.

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