Ferriday cracks down on loiterers

Published 11:08 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2008

FERRIDAY — The days of being able to loaf on the corner and drop your garbage where you stand well into the night are coming to an end.

At a recent board of aldermen meeting, a number of citizens complained about loiterers causing disturbances and scaring elderly citizens by fighting and loitering late at night.

Since then, the police have started writing citations for people who violate the loitering ordinance.

Email newsletter signup

Police Chief Kenneth Hedrick said he has instructed all of his officers to crack down on loitering, and while he said he did instruct them to pay attention to the areas surrounding nightclubs, the clubs weren’t to be the focal points of the loitering crackdown.

“I told them to put a stop to it just wherever (loiterers) are ganging up,” Hedrick said.

Mayor Glen McGlothin said stricter enforcement of the town’s loitering and littering ordinances are about changing Ferriday’s image.

“If someone from out of town comes in and they see this, with a bunch of trash on the ground, they’re going to think, ‘If the people who live here don’t care enough not to throw their trash on the ground, why should I?’” he said.

While putting an end to large groups of people standing around doing nothing might help clear up a parking lot or two for easier entrance and exit, the stricter enforcement may have another benefit.

“A lot of times, it is outside of the clubs, where they’re just standing around, that a fight starts,” Assistant Police Chief Johnny Evans said.

The loitering problem can be linked directly to some of the locations with the worst litter problem.

One location on north E.E. Wallace Boulevard nearly always has loiterers around it, McGlothin said.

“That spot is one place that the inmate cleanup crew always has to go to, every day,” he said.

The tougher enforcement is not an attempt to deny people their right to free assembly, McGlothin said.

“We don’t want to make this a Gestapo state,” he said. “If you want to party, that’s your business, but I ask that you do it inside. There’s no reason to stand around drinking in a parking lot.”

Though the citations haven’t had time to make their way into municipal court, McGlothin — who is also the town judge — said he might allow offenders a chance to avoid paying the $250 fine.

“If they don’t want to pay it, I can work it out with them where they can spend a couple of Saturdays picking up trash,” he said.