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BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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New civil code approved

Bowling Green and University police now have options when charging individuals with misdemeanor crimes.

Police have the power to charge violators with a civil infraction – rather than a misdemeanor – which is a lesser penalty.

And council members believe this option will help police enforce laws.

“If it’s not a criminal charge, [the] officer is more likely to charge them,” said John Zanfardino, Ward 2 councilman. “It creates a different and lesser level of offense.”

Bowling Green city council members adopted the ordinance at last night’s meeting with no opposition.

Due to its potential impact on citizens and students, council members held three public hearings, including one at the University, prior to the approval of the ordinance.

“This is a major change,” Zanfardino said. “The public hearings helped shape things.’#34;

And some changes even occurred accidentally, Zanfardino said.

Four University students attended one of the public hearings under the assumption council members were addressing the bicycle laws, which prohibit individuals from riding on sidewalks in the downtown area.

The students voiced their concerns at the hearing.

And though council was prepared to vote on the ordinance, they considered the student’s input and delayed voting.

The ordinance was amended to include bicycle laws, and now police can charge violators with a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor.

“It is phenomenal that those who show up have input, even their accidental arrival,” Zanfardino said.

B.J. Fishcer, council president, pointed out that most misdemeanors, such as jaywalking or littering in a public place, are minor offenses.

The option of civil infractions allow city officials to more quickly take care of those minor nuisances, Fischer said.

Though misdemeanor charges appear on individual’s permanent records, civil infractions don’t.

And that’s a tremendous benefit of the ordinance, said Mike Frost, Ward 4 councilman.

“It still gives us enforcement capabilities without somebody getting a huge criminal record,” Frost said.

Though some people have expressed concern over the authority the police now have, Fischer said police almost have less power now.

“It gives them an option, but it’s an option that’s a less serious charge than what they already have the power to do,” Fischer said. “We’ll have to watch and see how it gets enforced and if council feels like there’s problems then it can always be addressed.”

Zanfardino said council members modeled the ordinance after civil infraction ordinances that exist in both Oxford, Ohio, home of Miami University and Cincinnati.

“Miami is just a lovely little town, so that’s what we’re shooting for,” Zanfardino said. “It’s just a way to have a more enforceable quality of life.’#34;


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