Mayor Sandy Stimpson has resurrected an initiative designed to help keep more police on the streets, but with some interesting changes.
The item slated for a first reading on Tuesday’s Mobile City Council agenda will make a number of minor, nonviolent offenses punishable by a citation only, instead of an arrest. The idea, Stimpson’s office wrote in a statement is to keep Mobile Police Department officers on the streets protecting the public instead of traveling back and forth to Metro Jail because of minor offenses.
“Our ultimate goal is to keep our police officers on the streets, guard Mobilians from violent crimes, protect the rights of every citizen and create a safer city,” Stimpson said in the statement.
Unlike the last time the proposed ordinance was introduced though, minor drug offenses are not included on the list. City spokeswoman Laura Byrne said state law doesn’t allow for drug or alcohol offenses to be resolved through a fine, so an arrest would have to be made.
“The addition of minor drug offenses [last time] was an error on our part,” Byrne said. “After we vetted it through the District Attorney’s office and the Mobile Police Department, we had to remove those due to the state statute.”
If the ordinance passes, the offenses that can be resolved through a fine are are: criminal trespass in the third degree, disorderly conduct, failure to obey, harassment, harassing communications, loitering for drug purposes, improper containers in Lower Dauphin Entertainment District, criminal trespass in the second degree and all state-law misdemeanors.
Currently, all offenses require defendants to submit to custodial arrest and bonding requirements, just as they would if committing far more serious offenses. Byrne said each custodial arrest takes an officer around two hours to complete.