I was rereading old threads last night and one dealt with the how men might be unwelcome sitting on a park bench near a playground. How they are perceived as stalking pedophiles.
Without getting back into that argument, say i was the one sitting on that public park bench reading my book. Could a suspicious police officer ask me to leave that place for the comfort of the children’s parents? More accurately, could he enforce that action?
Not legal advice. Advice from a tiny non-aggressive person who really doesn’t like confrontations.
He is a police officer.
The gun, the taser, the billyclub, and the uniform means he can (in the moment) enforce his opinions on your rights to be somewhere or do something. If you wish to disagree with his rights to do so, I don’t think that it will go well - in the moment.
Now afterwards, when you post bail or the court throws out the arrest, there’s all sorts of interesting and expensive legal shenanigans you can get into which might impact his legal authority to do what he did, but you can’t really stop him in the moment from doing them.
But the enforcement of loitering laws is at the discretion of the police. If they think you’ve been hanging out on that bench too long then they can ask you to move along. Ask any homeless person if that’s been the case and you will likely get a positive response.
I think Lacsiel makes the salient point. There’s a difference between what a cop can do, physically, and what’s legal. What’s legal is determined at some indefinite point in the future, not when the cop does whatever he’s going to do.
Personally, though, if I was asked to move along, merely for being a male, I’d politely decline. And I say that as a father of a 5 year old girl. Being afraid of 50% of the population, merely because they’re male, is insane, and insane people shouldn’t get to make the rules.
Loitering is one of those laws that’s still on the books on many states. Courts have said they’re unconstitutional, but the laws themselves are still there.
I think in England that the law is specifically loitering with intent, ie loitering with the intention to commit a crime, although how they prove an intention I’m not sure. It’s a little like thought crime in a way.
It’s such a shame. I am a 70+ man and I can’t sit on a bench and watch the kids playing without someone getting creeped out by it. I don’t, because I know what would happen, but I feel robbed by the perverts who have taken away this innocent pleasure.
The point about him having a gun, a badge, and a taser are well taken. You may beat the rap but not the ride.
Second, a police officer, along with anyone else in the world, can ASK you to do anything. Usually they ask in a manner that suggests that you must, but if you persist, they will let you alone (although watch you at a distance to confirm or deny whatever gave them suspicion in the first place).
But the ultimate answer to your question is “no.” If you aren’t breaking the law, are in a public place, not interfering with any public function or police investigation, you have every right to be there.
In Colorado Revised Statutes, it is only illegal to loiter within 100 feet of a school (18-9-113) or when you are obstructing someone (18-9-107). In Denver specifically, the law outlawing loitering (38-86) was rewritten based on this this case and was re-written to correspond to the state’s definition of loitering as obstructing somebody in a public place. Look at paragraph 17 on page 7 and you’ll see the court had a similar objection to you - namely what defines MY loitering as illegal and YOURS not illegal.
In most of the cities I’ve lived in or visited (all in California), there is a very clearly established tendency to build public parks adjacent to public schools. Does this mean that single adult males are at risk of police harassment if they simply hang out in a public park next to a school?
Only if there is “nothing to see here.” Which only happens when there is something to see.
(Well that’s the cliche in old movies)
I live in apartments, so the local park is my “yard.” From time to time, school groups use the park, and essentially run everyone else off. Not in any official way, but the teachers/adults who watch over the kids basically stare at everyone else there, waiting to see if they open up a raincoat or attempt to peddle cigarettes.
Paranoia about pedophiles is a significant problem. I’m not sure to what if any degree it has protected children (as compared to common sense caution by guardians of children), but it’s created a good deal of misery.
However my personal practical answer would be to just move along if a cop tells you to. I’m not a lawyer but AFAIK the legal situation is almost never clear cut when you refuse to follow police instructions (except maybe an unlikely extreme where it would put you in serious danger or something). It’s not in the same category of questions where a cop specially asks you to consent to something (typically a search). If it’s clear you’re being asked you can always say ‘I’m sorry I don’t consent’, as long as you don’t physically resist. But if told I don’t see it coming down, in any likely situation, on the side of refusing to comply. Your recourse to being told to do something illegally is to get lawyer later on, if you have the evidence.
I recall once in a NYC park playground a cop came over and asked me to verify I had a kid there (my son was playing by himself under my observation). He wasn’t asking the moms and female babysitters. Some playgrounds have signs saying ‘no adults w/o kids’. I don’t know if those signs are really legal, but who is going to challenge them in this time of societal hysteria over pedophiles?
I live in Seattle and in the last year or so, the cops tried to compel a reporter to leave a scene. The reporter refused since he WAS reporting. I forget all the details but the reporter sued the cop, sued the city and WON. So, no, you don’t always have to “obey” a cop’s “commands”.
The Seattle police force in a state of chaos bordering on anarchy. They have gotten so out of control that the police force is now being “supervised” by the federal government. I don’t know if there’s too much corruption but I can tell you there’s WAY too much abuse of their authority. About 2 years ago a cop shot and killed a man, right out in the street in the middle of the day, who was carrying a small carving knife, since the man was a Native American carver of totem poles and other object.
The man was crossing a street and the cop told him to put down the knife. Before he had a chance to do so (he may have been drunk or on drugs which slowed his reflexes), the cop shot him dead–shot him 4 times in quick succession. I know this because the cop’s own camera caught it all on video. And this is just one example of how “badge heavy” some of these people have become.
I could go on and on about the Seattle police but I’d better not.
I once drove a (brown) friend who was visiting from out of town to the Adler Planetarium late one evening, maybe 11:00 pm. He is a huge amateur photography buff, and that spot has a nice view of the Chicago skyline.
I parked my car at a meter that specifically said it needed to be fed 24 hours a day., and my friend started setting up his camera. That was when the cops drove by and told us we weren’t allowed to park there. I pointed out that the meter specifically said it was in force 24 hours a day, so how could that be? The cop actually told me that the meters were for the sole use of people attending evening events at the Planetarium. Which is complete and utter crap, but I realized that was an argument I wasn’t going to win. Or at least without a LOT of inconveniences possibly involving arrest, booking, and court dates.
The quickest way to lose your liberty is refuse to stand up for it. I’m not saying you did the wrong thing. I’m just saying if no one takes a stand, the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are meaningless.