Burlington police say controversial trespassing ordinance is wor - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Burlington police say controversial trespassing ordinance is working

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - Lorre Tucker has owned Expressions Boutique on Burlington's Church Street Marketplace since 1979.

Some of that time she feared for her own and her customers' safety.

We had people walk in, very strange behavior walking in, walking through the store, frightening us a bit," said Tucker.

Tucker says she doesn't see this kind of behavior as much. A fact she partly attributes to a city ordinance that allows police to issue trespassing notices to violators on Church Street Marketplace.

definitely think that the ordinance has a place. The most important thing about it is it helps the police when they need to give them teeth and give them a reason to stop the behavior," said Tucker.

There are four core violations that could result in a trespassing notice:

 1. Disorderly Conduct
     2. Unlawful mischief
     3. Possession of opened or unopened alcohol
Possession of drugs

According the Burlington Police Department, here's a list of trespassing notices that have been issued since the ordinance was first implemented in May 2013:
  • 53 first offense trespassing notices issued resulting in a 24-hour marketplace ban for each violator
  • 10 second offense trespassing notices resulting in 90 day bans
  • 1 third offense trespassing notice resulting in a one-year marketplace ban for that violator
"Usually it's an individual whose already been spoken to once, maybe even twice," said Burlington Deputy Police Chief Bruce Bovat

Burlington Police say they issue trespassing notices in limited cases when an individual’s behavior begins to affect others' enjoyment of Church Street Marketplace and they say it's working.

"We've seen that by issuing this trespass that it is a deterrent; people don’t want to risk not be
ing allowed back down there, and our vast majority has been one-time issues which tell us it's working," said Chief Bovat.

Burlington City Attorney Eileen Blackwood says
one of the city’s main ideas behind the ordinance is its use as a tool for police to avoid unnecessary arrests.

Church Street is a place where there are lots of people and lot of people gathering, and the police in particular wanted to have some tool that would not require them to necessarily take someone off to jail and arrest them, but to diffuse a situation," said Blackwood.

She likens the ordinance to a timeout; a chance for people to leave the marketplace for a period of time in order to get their behavior under control.

"Another tool for the police to use to try to avoid escalating conflicts into criminal matters when they didn't need to be but the behavior was in violation of the law enough to make the police need to act on it
," said Blackwood.

But from the beginning the ordinance has been controversial and has left some questioning its constitutionality

"It might be a violation of people’s First Amendment rights," said Burlington City Council member Jane Knodell.

Related Story:

Is the Church Street trespassing ordinance unconstitutional?
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