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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Anti-Cruising Laws Aim to Drive away Wandering Cars

Cruisin' town is about to get a little tougher in Binghamton, NY if City Councilman Pat Russo's anti-cruising legislation passes.  Three years ago, Russo counted 22 times as the same vehicle passed his Pine Street porch. Prompted by wandering vehicles that he said frequent his downtown neighborhood, Russo has asked the city attorney to draft "anti-cruising" legislation that would prohibit cars from cruising in designated areas at certain times. Under Russo's envisioned law, vehicles that pass by a specific sign more than three times in a three-hour period could be stopped, questioned and fined.  "This gives a police officer an opportunity to stop people looking for drugs, looking for prostitutes," Russo said. "I guarantee you'll get 10 guys in one night."

Similar laws have passed legal challenges in other municipalities. In York, Pennsylvania a community of about 40,000 people in southern Pennsylvania, a no-cruising law withstood a legal challenge in the late 1980s, when the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city.  Longmont, Colorado, a city of about 80,000 people north of Denver, passed an anti-cruising law in the summer of 2006 after persistent problems with gang-related cruising.  The Longmont law provides exceptions for emergency, government and livery vehicles, as well as drivers who have "legitimate business activities" or are headed to and from a religious service. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has one too; you can read about it in the "Frequently Forgotten Ordinances" link of the city's webpage.

Binghamton Police Chief Steven Tronovitch mentioned that police officers in his department have the authority to stop vehicles for questioning and ask them what they're doing in the area without an anti-cruising law. "Sometimes that could escalate into something that is probable cause," he said.  But he welcomes any legislation that makes his officers' jobs easier. Full Story from PressConnects.com. . . 

That last part sounds a little questionable if you ask me; what does he do when he pulls over a car just to question its passengers and they blow him off because they think they're free to leave?  Does he arrest them for "fleeing"?  [Michele Berry]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2007/01/anticruising_la.html

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