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Possible to loiter in street corner?

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  • Possible to loiter in street corner?

    We have several street corners which have high areas of drug activity and whenever the dope boys see the police they start to walk away and when we approach them they keep walking saying they haven't done anything and we don't have a reason to stop them. Numerous officers have charged people with loitering for standing on street corners or hanging out on public sidewalks. There was one instance where the judge threw out cases and said you can't charge someone for loitering on a public sidewalk. In my opinion, if someone is hanging out on a street corner and you tell them to move on and 5min later they are back there again, it seems fair to charge them with loitering. But then again, does it seem to be an unreasonable time or manner for hanging out on the sidewalk. I need some incite!

  • #2
    Most loitering laws have been declared unconstitutional by the courts.....FREE COUNTRY
    "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm" -George Orwell

    "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing diapers." - Blues Brothers

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    • #3
      As long as they are not obstructing the flow of traffic, they can stand on a public sidewalk all day long.

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      • #4
        Look at other alternatives to have enforcement on that corner. I am not sure how big or the resouces that your department has, but utililize your city ordinances to the max. If there are not any in place that would work, maybe you can draft up some and propose them to become ordinance. Look into curfew ordinances to keep kids off of that corner after certain times. Public consumption of alcohol ordinance that if you see someone drinking there, you can have more leway in stopping and making contact to enforce.

        Setting up surviellance on the corner, even if it is still away at a distance and watching with binoculars. Once you have observed a possible transaction, move in for traffic stop on the car or person that was involved as they were leaving the area. If dope boys don't have any clients, they have no reason to be there and they will move on. To make it better, you are still building a case on the dope boys there and will have more evidence on your behalf to go before a judge and have search/arrest warrants signed later.

        BUT... DON'T ABUSE IT with just some lame excuse to get stop the person like "I just suspected he had dope, I stopped him." Don't need any other cases to make case law that would restrict officers.

        Happy dope Hunting & Street Cleaning!

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        • #5
          Do you have plain clothes units? Sounds like a good place to start a narcotics investigation etc.
          16-11-43 Obstructing public passage....maybe
          Park at the corner and do your paperwork.
          Judge me by the enemies I have made----Unknown

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          • #6
            Some cities have loitering ordinances that have subsections for "loitering with the intent to solicit or utilize drugs or paraphenalia." However, unless you have RAS that the boys on the corner are selling dope, it may not be any use. I agree with Zeit, use some plain clothes guys and build a case that way.
            The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence...sigpic

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            • #7
              GCFox, I wish our city would enact an ordinance like you mentioned. I've seen several others, but never heard any feedback on how well enforcing that has helped etc.

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              • #8
                County or City ordinance can definately help. We have alot of our property owners / i.e. gas stations and shopping centers sign written agreements asking for our agency to enforce "no loitering" signs in addition to our county ordinance. Since the property owners have signed agreements on file at our Precinct we give criminal trespass warnings and document them in incident reports. So if we see that person on the property it's absolutely justification for contact. We have had officers secure many arrest warrants for criminal trespass off that basis. You just have to make sure to bring in a copy of the property owners request for us to give criminal trespass orders and enforce no loitering statues. It helps us have justification to stop and talk to people standing in front of the dope gas station, if they have not purchased any items. We have had many officers go to Magistrate Court on P.C. hearings off those basis and it's worked every time.

                But on a public side walk is another story. Our's ususally never just sit on the sidewalk, they like the front door of the stop and rob gas station.

                I ususally turn on my in car camera and record them standing from a distance and not making purchases from the stores. After a given period of time, which I feel I can justify loitering, I make contact. Seems to work for me, never had problems.

                Our Narcotics unit is over worked and they already know about our local open air drug market we have in our area. The street level marijuana case seems below there radar. Usually it's just up to uniform to find ways to justify contact if we want enforcement at our precinct.
                Last edited by ls1ssdavid; 06-14-2011, 02:48 PM. Reason: Fixing stuff

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                • #9
                  Theres a state traffic code that prohibits pedestrians from soliciting people in motor vehicles. You write the ticket and if you get any lip...take them to the jail on the citation. This may not work for the dope boys. But it works for the people that say their looking for a ride or begging for money.

                  40-6-97- Soliciting by pedestrians
                  (a) No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride.
                  (b) Except as provided in Code Section 40-6-97.1, no person shall stand on a highway for the purpose of soliciting employment, business, or contributions from the occupant of any vehicle.
                  (c) No person shall stand on or in proximity to a street or highway for the purpose of soliciting the watching or guarding of any vehicle while parked or about to be parked on a street or highway.
                  Do not demand that which you cannot take by force.

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