KILLEEN, Texas — In a 4-3 vote, the Killeen City Council approved an amended version of Proposition A, the ordinance that would decriminalize low-levels of marijuana possession, during Tuesday night's meeting.
The amended version, filed by Councilmember Jessica Gonzalez, removes Section 22-83 of the ordinance, which would've stopped Killeen Police from conducting a search and seizure based on marijuana odor as probable cause.
Councilmember Jose Segarra could get behind Gonzalez's motion, and was one of the four who voted to approve it.
"I wanted them to be able to use that as a probable cause because I kind of read the list of arrests that our police officers have made and over 1,800 of them had marijuana as a reason why they were arrested for something else," he explained.
Earlier in the meeting, Segarra filed a motion to pass the proposition, but amend and remove sections 22-83, as well as 22-85 where a Killeen officer may be disciplined for violating the ordinance. His motion failed to pass.
Segarra was wanting the latter motion to be removed because he doesn't want police to be punished. However, he said the verbiage of the ordinance, specifically the word 'may,' should protect KPD.
"I think it would be up to the discretion of the chief to say I will discipline you or not," Segarra said. "Hopefully our chief is smart enough to make that decision and I have full competence and confidence in him."
Councilmember Ramon Alvarez also filed a motion to remove the two sections, but also to remove Class A misdemeanors from Section 22-80. He reasoned that he believed 4 ounces of marijuana, or .25 pounds of marijuana, was a lot to overlook and that Texas law's Class A misdemeanor for pot possession starts as low as 2 ounces.
His motion, however, failed.
Councilmember Michael Boyd pointed out his frustrations to his fellow constituents after several motions were filed with no action. But he said it speaks to how paramount the vote was.
"I think it's about being responsible and not reckless in the approach, unfortunately it's taking quite a few votes to get to there we need to be but this is a very significant vote," Boyd said.
David Bass, founder of Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana, was in attendance of Tuesday's meeting. He said he is proud of Killeen and is celebrating the city council's decision.
He just hopes this keeps proving to city leaders that it is as beneficial as he thinks it will be.
"Let's all use common sense so that we don't give the city council an excuse to repeal this ordinance," he added.
In addition to removing 22-83 from the ordinance, city councilmembers will be revisiting the ordinance in three months with data from Killeen Police within that timeframe.
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