October 3, 2012

Loitering tickets cause controversy

The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — While Chickasha Police are trying to crack down on loitering in private parking lots, some citizens disagree with recent punishments.

This week a group of teenagers were ticketed for loitering outside a Homeland grocery store, on Grand Avenue, after the business closed for the evening.

Brandy Clark, mother of one of the 16-year-old boys ticketed for sitting in his car outside the grocery store, expressed her frustration with the Chickasha Police Department on the Express-Star's Facebook page.

"My sixteen-year-old pulled up to some friends sitting in the Homeland parking lot, his truck still running," Clark said, "And all the people there said he hadn't been there for even one minute, when a police officer gave them all loitering tickets."

Clark points out how the city of Chickasha has failed to give proper businesses and areas where teenagers can simply hang out.

"Does the city of Chickasha prefer our youth to go back roading?" Clark questioned. "If the kids are not hurting anyone or any property, what does it hurt? This city has absolutely no place for teenagers to hang out."

The feedback on Clark's post sparked over 104 "likes" and 134 comments, and is still growing,  and included a response from Lt. Dan Perske of the Chickasha Police Department giving a different perspective.

"Tickets are written to keep people from loitering because it is a problem," Perske wrote. "The results are littering, fighting and vandalism."

Perske also pointed out there are signs warning residents that loitering is illegal. He invited readers to contact him if they'd like to understand the laws, which he feels they do not fully understand.

Jamie Guinn, a former Chickasha Police Department officer also came to the department's defense.

"The businesses, Homeland and especially Braums, don't want the juveniles there because they used to fight all the time, tear up the property, trash the lots, and do donuts," Guinn wrote. "I worked there eight years and it was always the same. There was a parent who actually did buy the grass lot in front of Homeland to let his kids and their friends sit, but after a few incidents he put a stop to that."

Gunn took a moment to express gratitude toward his former co-workers.

"I worked with some incredibly hardworking and caring individuals, who have worked their best to make Chickasha a safer place." Gunn wrote. "They do their best, but it never is enough."

Interim Police Chief Elip Moore said he has had plenty of experience trying to cut down loitering and misuse of private parking lots.