City Council member challenges ‘lurking’ ordinance

A City Council member has revived his challenge of an ordinance that bans people from “lurking” with the intent to commit a crime.

Second Ward Council Member Cam Gordon pushed for the repeal last spring, saying the lurking ordinance was too general and criminalized thoughts. He decided to put the challenge on hold when he found he did not have enough support for the change. The Minneapolis Police Department opposed the repeal, saying it would take away a tool for dealing with criminals before they take the final step in plans to commit a crime.

As a compromise to get the lurking ordinance off the books, Gordon said he is now reluctantly suggesting that laws against loitering be strengthened. That could mean adding language that allows the arrest of people who demonstrate the intent to commit a broader range of crimes, such as theft. He said the loitering law is less objectionable because it lists behavior that demonstrates the likelihood that a crime is about to occur.

“It’s going to be a bit of a trick and take a little time for us to figure out exactly how much to include in the loitering ordinance in order to get support for something and build a compromise,” Gordon said.

The City Council referred the issue to the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee on Dec. 21.