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Will Lansing's new loitering ordinance reduce drug crime?

Waiting for the bus in downtown Lansing could land you in jail for 90 days under the terms of a new city ordinance intended to deal with drug trafficking.

The ordinance appears to apply specifically to the CATA Transportation Center downtown. Police say the area is the site of regular drug trafficking activity. So the Lansing City Council passed an ordinance that makes it a crime to wait for your bus in certain spots near the station.

Authorities posted no-loitering signs at some areas around the CATA Transportation Center earlier this year. However, the ordinance includes locations without signs. Now, anyone standing within a block of the East Kalamazoo and Grand Avenue intersection and the Lenawee Street and Washington Avenue intersection -- essentially, the block the station is on -- could be arrested for loitering.

Many people seem to be confused by the new rules. One passenger said he supported getting “all the riff raff” away from the station, but noted that police may use the law to force innocent people off the block.

Another person said that security officers have already ordered him to move several times, but that all he was doing was smoking on the sidewalk. He also questioned how officers would be able to pick out suspected drug dealers among those simply waiting for the bus.

Using a loitering ordinance to prevent drug crime could lead to people not involved in drugs getting arrested. The ordinance provides for up to 90 days behind bars and a $500 fine. These steep penalties make it important for anyone arrested for loitering to contact a defense attorney to protect their rights.

Source: WLNS-TV, “Lansing Police Cracking Down on Drugs at CATA Transportation Center,” Christa Lamendola, July 14, 2014

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