Curfew — See Ch. 132.
Peace and good order — See Ch. 198.
§ 179-1Loitering or prowling prohibited.
§ 179-2Lingering in or about specific facilities.
§ 179-3Group loitering.
§ 179-4Requests by police officers to leave.
§ 179-5Violations and penalties.
§ 179-6Construction and interpretation.
§ 179-7Continuing evaluation.
It shall be unlawful for any person to loiter or prowl in a place, at a time or in a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals under circumstances that warrant alarm for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity.
Among the circumstances which may be considered in determining whether such alarm is warranted is the fact that the actor takes flight upon appearance of a police officer, refuses to identify himself or herself or manifestly endeavors to conceal himself or herself or any object.
As a procedural condition to conviction, if practicable and unless flight by the actor or other circumstance makes it impracticable, a police officer shall, prior to any arrest under this section, afford the actor an opportunity to dispel any alarm which would otherwise be warranted by requesting said actor to identify himself or herself and explain his or her presence and conduct. Also, no person shall be convicted of an offense under this section if it appears at the hearing that the explanation given by the actor was true and, if believed by the police officer at the time, would have dispelled the alarm.
Types of loitering. No person shall loiter in a public place in such manner as to:
Create or cause to be created a danger of a breach of the peace.
Create or cause to be created any annoyance to any person or persons.
Obstruct the free passage of pedestrians or vehicles.
Obstruct, molest or interfere with any person lawfully in any public place, as defined in § 179-1.1 of this chapter. This shall include the making of unsolicited remarks of an offensive, disgusting or insulting nature or which are calculated to annoy or disturb the person to whom, or in whose hearing, they are made.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Remaining idle essentially in one (1) location; lingering or spending time idly; loafing or walking about aimlessly in one (1) vicinity or neighborhood; or "hanging around" for no legitimate purpose other than to linger in the area.
- PUBLIC PLACE
- Any place to which the public has access, including any public street or public sidewalk or the front of and the area immediately adjacent to any school, parking lot, store, restaurant, tavern or other place of business.
Under circumstances falling short of rendering such person an implied invitee or licensee, it shall be unlawful for any person to linger in or about and for a purpose unconnected with lawful activity related to facilities of a restricted public nature to which the public or a substantial group has access, including a store, shopping center, school, railroad stop or station, the post office, the borough's municipal or community building or any place of public worship or any parking area serving any such facility or any residential, municipal or commercial parking area to which the public or a substantial group has access. Such specific places shall be deemed to include, to the fullest extent permitted as reasonable under all the circumstances, any point within one hundred (100) feet of such place or facility for the effective dispelling of alarm for safety of persons or property, prevention of disruption of activities in which such facilities specialize and minimizing of trespassing or trespassing ab initio.
On any public street or parking area of any type adjacent thereto open as a parking area or street to the use of the public, irrespective of whether such public use is a matter of right, and including streets as well as parking lots open to public use as a privilege by permission of the owner, including sidewalks thereof (and walls, steps or points immediately adjacent thereto so as to minimize evasion), it shall be unlawful for three (3) or more persons as a group or as interacting individuals or groups to linger for more than ten (10) minutes under circumstances that warrant alarm for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity.
A police officer, acting reasonably and objectively, may warn such persons to disperse.
If reasonably necessary to dispel any alarm which would otherwise be warranted, a police officer may clear the area of such persons, causing those who refuse or fail to leave to be taken to the police station. At the police station, the Sergeant on duty shall ascertain relevant facts, under constitutional safeguards, and assume centralized responsibility for accurate, effective, fair, impartial and uniform enforcement. Such persons may thereupon be permitted to return or be escorted to their respective homes if such action is consonant with dispelled alarm for the safety of persons or property in the area affected. Said Sergeant shall promptly, within twenty-four (24) hours, file a written report with the Chief.
As a last resort for effective crowd control, after consultation with the Mayor, proceedings may be instituted before the District Justice under this section.
Whenever the presence of any person in any public place is causing or is likely to cause any of the conditions enumerated in § 179-2C of this chapter, any police officer may order that person to leave that place. Any person who is observed by a police officer standing around in violation of this chapter for a period of ten (10) minutes or more shall be guilty of a violation of this section.
Any person who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than three hundred dollars ($300.) and/or imprisonment for a term not to exceed ninety (90) days.
Severability is intended throughout and within the provisions, parts, phrases and terms of §§ 179-1, 179-2 and 179-3 and the application thereof; if any of such are held invalid, this shall have no effect in any other respect, and the invalidity of any minimum number shall have no effect on the applicability of the minimum number constitutionally permissible or any higher number.
To be as fair and specific as possible, the Mayor is authorized to give advisory opinions, in writing or immediately reduced to writing, which shall be binding and shall be adhered to by the police, until an appropriate amendment, if any, has been duly considered and enacted by the Borough Council, interpreting terms, phrases, parts or any provisions or the application thereof with respect to conduct and circumstances definitely described, preferably, where practicable, in response to signed letters addressed to the Mayor at the Middletown Community Building, 60 West Emaus Street, Middletown. Pennsylvania 17057.
Aided by normal monthly distribution to each Councilman of all reports to the Chief of Police and of all advisory opinions of the Mayor hereinbefore provided for, the Borough Council and its appropriate committee shall oversee and review the continuing effectiveness, in meeting impelling needs, of this chapter.