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Businesses now have a weapon to fight loitering
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Manteca Police are staging a citywide business watch meeting to share ways to reduce crime and issues such as loitering.

It takes places Wednesday, June 19, at 5 p.m. at the Manteca Transit Center, 220 Moffat Blvd.

 The gathering is designed to:

*share information and resources available to reduce crime.

*have police collaborate closer with local business owners

*allow business owners to share concerns.

*strengthen police ties with the community.

Participants from the department will include the organized retail theft detective and command staff.

It is also an opportunity for businesses to join a city effort that gives police the ability to go after loiterers such as homeless individuals hanging around stores.

In a nutshell, the program involves posting specific signage available from the city.

If such signs citing new ordinance language are posted in clear sight, Manteca Police when passing on patrol will have the legal authority to get any loitering person to move on.

They will be able to approach loiterers — with their body cameras on — and point out the sign that the camera will record, and point out the sign clearly shows they are not allowed to loiter.

Such a recording will provide evidence needed for successful prosecutions if those approached do not comply to an officer’s lawful request for them  to leave the property.

The move making Manteca’s anti-loitering ordinance more robust comes after a sharp increase in mostly homeless individuals  sitting or lying down outside of Manteca businesses such as convenience stores, banks, and other concerns.

Private property owners are responsible for paying for the  signs and installing them.

And they need to be placed in a visible location and enough of them placed for the property’s size so responding officers can reference the sign to those that are suspected to be loitering.

Violators will be subjected to fines. More importantly, police officers will have the authority to order violators to move.

 If they do to comply they could be subject to arrest.

The municipal code amendment basically will allow police to go after loitering and trespassing on private property.

Unlike the city ordinance that requires the property owner to file a letter with the police department and periodically update it throughout the year, the postings of the signs will suffice to give police the authority to enforce anti-loitering rules.

Throughout 2023, the Manteca Police officers increasingly observed loitering on private property.

The department has also received a growing number of complaints from private property owners and businesses regarding trespassing and loitering. 

Officers primarily observe trespassing and loitering near busy shopping centers, gas stations, and convenience stores where people will loiter and solicit customers for money, engage in illegal drug and alcohol use, sleep near building entrances and exits, and vandalize property. 

 As a result, business operations are impacted, customers are discouraged from entering businesses, and the safety and welfare of residents and customers are compromised.

Similar ordinance amendments in Lodi and Stockton has approved the effectiveness of officers in those two cities to address loitering.

 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulleitn.com