ASHLAND, Ore. — Several months have passed since Ashland Police began enforcing a “Three Strikes, You’re Out” policy for repeat offenders in downtown Ashland.
Store owner Fredrica Lawerence says transients and some homeless can scare people away from downtown and effectively scaring business away.
“They’ll just walk around them, go out into the street and walk around them because they are too scared to go through it,” said Lawrence.
The “Enforced Law Enforcement Area” in downtown Ashland was put into place late last summer and targets repeat offenders who cause trouble. If a person receives three citations in a six month span, he or she could be excluded from the downtown area for 90 days to a year.
In the several months since being put into place, nine people have been identified as repeat offenders, however many left town before being taken to jail.
“Out of those 9, 5 people were never served, they just left the area. The four remaining people, all four of them were served, 2 of those people left the area also, or they haven’t come back,” explained Ashland Police Dept. Chief Corey Falls.
City Councilor Carol Voisin was the only member of city council to vote against the exclusion zone last year because she feared it targeted the homeless. She’s says it appears to be only impacting transients so far, but still isn’t sure the zone is a good idea.
“I mean is that really a good use of our police time and our tax dollar money? You know, I’m not sure but let’s wait and see what the summer brings,” remarked Councilor Voisin.
Lawerence says she thinks the impact of the enforced law enforcement area has taken a step towards improving the downtown area, but doesn’t think it is a long-term solution.
“And, you know, it’s not that many people who actually do the harassing, it is just like a handful. But those are the ones who typically scare people away,” said Lawrence.
Many other residents in Ashland agreed to wait and see the impact of the enforced law enforcement zone after more time has passed.