JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Jonesboro City Council voted to hold the 2nd reading of an ordinance to regulate special events and street closings within city limits. According to Mayor Harold Perrin, the ordinance would allow for the police department to issue special permits for recreational events. Perrin said the procedure would give law enforcement the ability to plan patrols around events and perform everyday police duties simultaneously.
"It's a planning tool so you can manage from that plan. In other words, we had a lot of events that come up in Jonesboro, like this weekend," said Perrin. "To deploy those people that we need in certain areas, we need to have some knowledge of how many, and where and what's going on."
A resolution is still up for vote by the council. The resolution would establish a permit fee for special assemblies and a fee for street closings which require the use of barricades.
"You just submit your plan or activities prior to that. We simply check that, and that would go to the police department and they would look to see where they want to deploy certain employees," said Perrin. "The marathons, the bike rides and all of that, then again, we had that going on last year, when at the same time we had the fair and all of that."
Police Chief Mike Yates has reviewed the proposal with the city attorney. He said he believes the ordinance would establish appropriate guidelines for special events.
"We've got to that point where we're having so many activities that it's taxing our ability to provide police service and traffic control," said Yates. "Some of the organizations work with us very well where we have several months lead time to prepare for a particular 5k or something like that."
"As we got closer to the date for that, we had a few that would pop up a few days before, saying, oh yeah we're having an event the same day," said Yates.
To read the ordinance, click here.
Yates said the ordinance does not interfere with a person's right to assemble/protest.
"It's mainly the planned recreational events that require a closing of the streets and police manpower to deal with it," said Yates. "Part of the ordinance specifically exempts those things. The picketing and protesting, spontaneous gatherings and things like that."
Perrin said the permits would also give city departments time to prepare.
"In November, we're going to have a very large barbeque cook off contest and they've got some big entertainment coming to town and all of that. Well, we're going to have to have sanitation involved down there to keep it clean all of that time," said Perrin. "Maybe the street departments for barricading of certain things for a certain period of time."