City Commissioners approved the second reading of a new disorderly conduct ordinance update that will empower Orlando Police to remove individuals obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic flow and even fine them.
The updates to Sec. 43.06. – Disorderly Conduct of the City Code will allow police officers to fine or imprison any person deemed guilty of breaking the code, which also includes simply blocking the sidewalk or road, threats of violence, or exchanging “fighting words,” someone who forces their company upon any other person, frequenting public places with the intent to obtain money from other persons, or acting in a “tumultuous manner” toward another.
More specifically, the ordinance now states that anyone who blocks a sidewalk intentionally and refuses to move once asked by the police could face up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Commissioner Hill emphatically called for the ordinance to be applied in her district on the west side of I-4 where Parramore residents have been complaining about a recent spike in downtown camping, and where she encountered an intruder in her home at 5 a.m. who she had seen camping in front of her house earlier in the day. Commissioner Sheehan shared that the ordinance can also help to clear the sidewalks of late-night drinkers who sometimes make her feel unsafe on her way to her car.
City Council voted 6-1 in favor of the ordinance change, with Commissioner Burns being the only one to vote against it. Before the vote, Michael Filteau, the (always slightly awkward) legal advisor on the ordinance for the Orlando Police Department, was prompted by the mayor to say if the ordinance was designed to target the homeless and answered that it was more likely to be used when the bars closed at the end of the night when officers would be asking people to clear the streets – watch for yourself in the video below.