Law board discusses ban rule

By Katherine Wartell

The Riley County Law Board agreed Monday to further discuss the possible introduction of a city ordinance that would target unruly bar patrons and allow officers to ban offenders from licensed establishments.

Capt. Tim Hegarty suggested the need for an Unruly Patron ordinance, much like one in Madison, Wis., that allows police officers to prohibit patrons who have engaged in violent, abusive, profane or unreasonably loud behavior from entering the premises of licensed establishments for up to six months.

In a memo to law board members, Hegarty said the patron would be issued a written notice that they are not allowed to return to the establishment, which will also receive a copy of the notice.

If the patron does return, he or she would be subject to arrest for violation of the criminal trespass ordinance. The bar would not be subject to any penalties.

RCPD Director Brad Schoen told Law Board members

met with bar owners to discuss the idea and, “no one appeared to have a problem with it.”

Law Board member and City Commissioner Loren Pepperd raised concerns, noting that the city already has a disorderly conduct ordinance in place.

In that ordinance, disorderly conduct is defined as engaging in brawling or fighting, disturbing an assembly, meeting or procession not unlawful in its character, or using offensive, obscene, or abusive language which constitutes fighting words that tend reasonably to arouse anger or resentment in others.

Capt. Kurt Moldrup said officers can arrest a citizen for the misdemeanor offense, but cannot control whether that person continues to frequent licensed establishments following that arrest.

He said banning an unruly person is up to private bar owners, and officers have had issues with the same unruly people frequenting the same bars night after night.

Schoen told the Law Board that Madison’s ordinance did not have to be the exact blueprint and asked that the Board okay the discussion moving on to the city.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Law Board members continued to discuss the need for a Crisis Intervention Team, or a team designed to help police officers learn how to effectively handle citizens with mental health issues.

In a January Law Board meeting, Caroll Hess, a member of the Pawnee Mental Health Board, suggested the creation of the program, which would work much like the Crisis Center’s Police Response Advocate Program, where volunteers respond along with police to domestic violence situations.

The CIT program would require volunteers to help officers process the mentally ill and a place for the mentally ill to be held instead of jail, the cost of which has been a point of contention for several board members.

“We need to get everybody at the table,” Chairperson Karen McCulloh said. “We need to identify the problems and where the gaps are.” In earlier meetings, McCulloh suggested a taskforce for the purpose of furthering discussion on the matter.

In Monday’s meeting, Board members agreed that they need to consult with Hess to see about him taking on the volunteer side of the program. They also said they needed to put the matter on the city and county agendas.

During Monday’s meeting, Schoen also presented a letter of appreciation to Det. Dustin Weiszbrod for his work solving a 2011 case of prescription drug fraud and identity theft. McCulloh announced that National Correctional Officers’ Week will be celebrated between May 6 and 12, and that Police Memorial Week is May 13 through the 19.

Schoen said that on Friday, May 18, there will be a memorial celebration followed by a lunch and cookout at the Riley County Police Department. The event is open to the public.

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