F’ville reviews trespassing ordinance

The Fayetteville City Council on Jan. 6 got a look at the first reading of a proposed unauthorized entry ordinance intended to keep such minor offenses adjudicated in city court.

Police Chief Steve Heaton said the intent of the ordinance is to assist officers in addressing trespassing on private property and to provide for city charges processed in city court rather than the customary state charges that require the offender to be processed in state court. The first offense for trespassing, whether under state law or city ordinance, is a warning, Heaton added.

The proposed ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to enter upon the land or premises of another person or into any part of any vehicle, railroad car, aircraft, or watercraft of another person after receiving, prior to such entry, written notice from the city police department that such entry is forbidden.”

Heaton said many of the criminal trespass incident reported to police involve juveniles. If approved, the ordinance would allow officers to address trespassing issues with a less formal procedure that will not show up on a person’s criminal history and will reduce the amount of overtime paid to officers.

“There is a state law that addresses criminal trespass, however, when arresting someone for criminal trespass the officer has to apply for a warrant through the Magistrate’s Office. In many cases, the officer must make that application when he/she is off duty. The department pays overtime in those circumstances. The arrest also is placed on the person’s criminal record,” said Heaton.

The second reading and possible approval of the ordinance will come at the board’s mid-January meeting.

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