In some places, people line up for a Friday night fish fry. In Rochester, there is at least one neighborhood where people line both sides of the street on Friday nights to buy drugs.
“It’s almost like a drive-through restaurant,” says City Council member Elaine Spaull.
Spaull shared the anecdote, told to her by a friend, at a meeting of Council’s Public Safety Committee yesterday. Earlier in the meeting, Council member Adam McFadden, the committee’s chair, introduced legislation to create drug-free zones in the city.
The legislation would create a new section of City Code to prohibit loitering in defined areas for the purpose of selling drugs. The zones would be identified by the police chief, using criteria set out in the legislation (see below).
The penalty for a first offense would be $300, according to the legislation. A second offense would also earn you a $300 fine or a prison sentence of 30 days or less, or both, the legislation says.
Drug dealers have gotten too comfortable, McFadden said, sharing stories of dealers relaxing on lawn chairs while selling. People in some neighborhoods are afraid to walk to their corner store, he said.
McFadden said that he created the legislation to agitate dealers out of complacency, and to give police an added tool to combat open-air drug markets.
“People are too comfortable in some of these neighborhoods in breaking the law,” he said. “We can’t afford to do nothing.”
While supporting the intent of the legislation, Rochester Mayor Tom Richards said that he has serious questions about the legislation’s constitutionality and how difficult it would be to enforce. McFadden said that he based the legislation on a similar program in Washington, D.C. Richards said his administration would look into the Washington program to see if it can be accommodated in Rochester.
Drug-Free Zones 2013 by chrisatcity