- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - People camping in downtown Juneau are the target of a proposal that’s up for discussion on Monday.

KTOO-FM reports (https://bit.ly/2iXIOZs) assembly members may vote after Monday’s public hearing.

The Juneau Police Department said the proposal allows officers to arrest campers for disorderly conduct if they refuse to move.

Tickets could also be issued.

Juneau Police Officer Alexander Smith says currently it’s the responsibility of the business owner to call police and report possible trespassing or vandalism.

“So if we see someone sleeping in the doorway we can contact them and make sure they’re alive and breathing, but we don’t have any legal authority to remove somebody from the doorway simply for them standing there,” he said.

Partially-shielded doorways outside businesses are considered private property.

He said tickets don’t always work when it comes to a transient population like homeless people.

“It kind of goes along with the open container tickets and that kind of thing, where a lot times the people who have been here long enough they don’t care,” Smith said. “They’ll take 20 tickets and be like, ‘Whatever.’ Now whether or not a new citation will actually change your behavior is debatable. But it’s one of those things that hopefully will be an incentive.”

He said the ordinance may discourage people from building tents or camps.

“It probably won’t have too much of an actual impact on people who are just kind (of) slumped over in the doors,” the officer said. “Because, you know, if they don’t have any money or any means to provide for themselves, giving them a ticket or kicking them to the next doorway is not going to change a whole lot. But for people that are building legitimate tents and camps it might create an incentive for them not to do that.”

Four Alaska Native groups wrote a letter asking assembly members to nix the proposal.

Attorneys with the city warned that city laws essentially making it illegal to be homeless have been struck down in court.


Information from: KTOO-FM, https://www.ktoo.org

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