SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane Police Department is distributing warnings to violators of the law prohibiting people from sitting or lying on downtown sidewalks.
"It's helped us to be able to move people along and to improve the perception of safety in the downtown area," Captain Judi Carl said.
On May 1, officers started handing out informational fliers on the newly updated law. Municipal Code 10.10.026 prohibits sitting or lying down on public sidewalks, including any portable object placed on the sidewalk between the hours of 6a.m. to midnight. It also forbids anyone to sit or lie down on any public fixture that is not designated to be sat on.
"We're talking about sidewalks, we're talking about planters, we're talking about garbage cans, we're talking about mailboxes," Sergeant Dan Waters said. "We're talking about things that aren't designed for sitting."
For people like Scott Mitchell, who hang out downtown frequently, this law doesn't sit well.
"This where the massive street people and friends... they just gather here," Mitchell said.
For Michael Brogdon, this law puts him out of his normal place to sleep.
"I've been out here, like, in total, four months," Brogdon said. "It's just been on and off though because of issues with my family."
Both Mitchell and Brogdon said they understand the law, but add it's unfortunate that it's needed.
"Certain few mess it up for the rest of them and they bring it down on all of us," Mitchell said.
The municipal code was updated last winter to allow police to arrest violators, but police say that will be only as a last resort. Right now, it's about informing people and directing them toward services.
Captain Carl said they're not targeting the homeless. The ordinance is about making everyone feel comfortable in downtown.
Spokane Police is also cracking down on jaywalking, panhandling, littering and graffiti.
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