My Letter To Council On Tuesday’s Party Ordinance Update
Mayor and council,
I watched Deputy Police Chief Miller’s update on the party ordinance last Tuesday with great interest and concern. It appears that some of the metrics used to determine success do not necessarily equate to good community policing standards. They certainly don’t contribute to the mutual respect between officers and the public that many police departments strive for. Of particular concern was the following quote:
“We’re showing up to these parties. They’re shutting the door, they don’t want to talk to us, they run away.”
Admittedly, I don’t have a degree in any law enforcement field but that statement seems to go against everything I have read about law enforcement goals. Generally, police do not want the door slammed in their face and they don’t want suspects to run away. Those actions usually lead to escalation of a situation and when things escalate, people get hurt. How that statement could be presented and received as positive is frightening.
The second statement I found concerning was Miller’s assertion that he has “received nothing but positive comments” on the party ordinance. If that is the case, then he is only talking to, and receiving feedback from, a select group of people.
I suppose Miller missed the 500 plus signatures delivered to council calling for you to revisit the ordinance, the online petition opposed to the ordinance with over 3,000 signatures, the three articles in the Arizona Daily Sun and a Daily Sun editorial covering opposition to the ordinance and the two articles in the NAU Lumberjack newspaper criticizing the ordinance.
Leaving out the mention of any opposition in his presentation is misleading and some feel it is a slap in the face to citizens who are genuinely concerned about the ordinance.
At the end of the presentation, Vice Mayor Barotz said she supported adding the ordinance back on a future agenda so she could explain how the ordinance worked and turn people who oppose the ordinance into supporters. While I appreciate her vote and the votes of Oravits, Putzova, and Brewster to revisit the ordinance, I did want to clarify and make it clear that those opposed to the ordinance actually do know why they oppose it. The reasons are as follows:
1. As Deputy Chief Miller stated, many people are still receiving criminal charges under the new ordinance. He listed several “nuisances” that qualify for criminal action including littering.
2. Adding civil charges to the ordinance that apply to many more people including first offenders, while keeping many of the criminal options intact, means that more people are being cited and charged. Some are being cited and charged with both civil and criminal charges.
3. Changing the number of people who constitute a party from 15 to 5 puts everybody at risk of violating this ordinance.
4. Moving the probationary period from 90 – 120 days means there is a much larger chance of people getting a second or third offense under the ordinance.
Simply put, this ordinance does not help the people who are opposed to the ordinance.
Finally, while I know this ordinance was created to target students, eventually it will impact other groups and gatherings. For example, I have a feeling Councilmember Evans would be singing a vastly different tune if police had shown up and fined her $250 for a first offense when she had a run in with the law a while back. Here is a link for those who may have forgotten:
Then again, police are allowed to use their discretion with this ordinance so maybe they won’t fine councilmembers if something like this happens again. Councilmembers may be “above the law” as the police selectively enforce who they want to target.
Please put some thought into these points once the ordinance makes it on a future agenda.
Thanks for your time.