08/02/09 — New Fremont law will crack down on loiterers in town

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New Fremont law will crack down on loiterers in town

By Laura Collins
Published in News on August 2, 2009 2:00 AM

Starting in December, there will be a new no loitering ordinance in Fremont.

The law is an effort to crack down on drugs sales in the area.

"It clears out the area where we have known violators of the controlled substance laws," police Chief R.K. Rawlings said. "The law gives us the opportunity, when applied right, to give a warning and tell them there is a loitering law. Once we do that, and if we come back though, they can be charged. They know if they're hanging out there, they're going to get arrested."

Fremont and Roanoke Rapids are the only areas that chose to be a part of this bill, which was passed by the General Assembly on July 9. Two other cities in the state, Columbia and Brevard, passed the law in 2007.

"I've talked to the chief in Columbia and in Brevard and they both say there were certain areas of town that had people violating the controlled substance laws," Rawlings said. "They made it clear there were areas they implemented the law, and it's cleared it out."

Isaac Artis, a Fremont resident, said the new law will "help the community."

"This is one of the things that has been brought up that will help everyone on a whole. We know most of the problems are rooted where people are just standing around, hanging out," he said. "The chief has been on it, but now he'll have some grounds to enforce this. Without the law, there's hardly anything he can do. You can disband them, but they come right back."

Currently officers are only allowed to conduct field interviews if they see groups of people standing around. A field interview consists of asking for names and addresses, and allows officers to pat someone down if they fear for their safety.

"This gives the field interview law a little more teeth. There has to be reasonable suspicion to conduct a field interview," Artis said.

The no loitering law applies to any street, sidewalk, bridge, alleyway, plaza, park, driveway, parking lot, doorway, entranceway to any building and vehicles in or on those places or on property owned by the Town of Fremont.

The law also states it is unlawful to:

n Repeatedly beckon or stop, or attempt to stop passerbys, or repeatedly attempt to engage a passerby in conversation

n Repeatedly stop or attempt to stop vehicles

n Repeatedly interfere with the free passage of other people

n Repeatedly pass to or receive from passerbys, whether on foot or in a vehicle, money or objects.