Duluth police: Nonsmoking ordinance will improve life on LakewalkDuluth police said they believe the resolution passed by the City Council on Monday forbidding smoking along the Lakewalk and adjacent parks will give them another tool to deal with those who create a public nuisance there.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
Duluth police said they believe the resolution passed by the City Council on Monday forbidding smoking along the Lakewalk and adjacent parks will give them another tool to deal with those who create a public nuisance there.
Police Lt. Eric Rish said police have 30 days to work on developing a strategy on enforcement before the ordinance goes into effect.
“A lot of the ordinance is designated for Lake Place Park and the Lakewalk. Will it make it easier to do some enforcement? Yes,” Rish said. “We’re always trying to eliminate nuisance crimes and quality-of-life crimes, and I think the experience on the Lakewalk will be improved by having it in place. We’re going to be working on a strategy of how to enforce it.”
Rish said he expected the police command staff to meet on the issue later this week.
Councilors Patrick Boyle and Jim Stauber introduced the resolution, which bans the smoking of tobacco or other substances, such as synthetic marijuana or “bath salts,” on the Lakewalk, Lake Place Park and Leif Erikson Park.
The ordinance defines “fake marijuana” broadly — as a product smoked or chewed that is not intended for or labeled for human consumption — rather than specifying a list of banned products. Producers and marketers of synthetic marijuana often make minor changes in their chemical compositions to sidestep regulations against specific products.
City Attorney Gunnar Johnson said the ordinance could create more work for his office, but doesn’t expect a volume that it can’t handle.
“In the grand scheme of things it’s not a real problem for us,” he said. “It’s just more volume, but we already have high volume. We have more cases than any other entity in St. Louis County District Court. We deal with a lot of tickets, from misdemeanors to gross misdemeanors, and if more are generated it would not be a real (paperwork) problem.”
Johnson said the penalty for violating the petty misdemeanor ordinance will be $50.
Rish said the ordinance is a step in the right direction.
“It will be one more tool, but the problem (of synthetic marijuana) is much more complex than just a smoking ordinance,” he said.